Re: electric meme bombs

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Mon 21 Oct 2002 - 14:38:08 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: electric meme bombs"

    >I have just rejoined the list after some 2 years absence and I see that
    >there are still some problems with definitions and perceptions that seem to
    >be inhibiting the progress of the science of memetics. I would like to
    >make some observations that may help.
    >The concept of memetics has been of great assistance to me in the study and
    >practice of change management. While I agree with the holistic approach
    >(the definition of a meme event as an observable behaviour in a cultural
    >context), by far the most significant factor in that process is language.
    >For example: it is possible to bring about significant change in an
    >organisation by changing the language used by the people within that
    >organisation (acknowledgements to If Price).
    >The operational environment that makes the mememetic process possible is
    >the pattern identification system used by our brains, and as far as I can
    >tell, that system evolved from the basic need to quickly identify danger in
    >order to stay alive. What makes the exact defining of what a meme is, and
    >how it works difficult, is that it does not work the same way each time.
    >If the brain receives part of a pattern it will fill in the blanks from
    >past memories/experiences. As no 2 peoples experience of life is
    >identical, it is obvious that the reaction to a specific meme will be
    >different in each case. I think it would help if we stopped treating a
    >meme as an object. To me the "meme" is the process of transference of a
    >pattern and the resultant behaviour. As people with an interest in
    >memetics, what we are doing is creating a language to describe a concept.
    >I hope it doesn't take another 2 years for the memetics community to agree
    >on some standard definitions.
    >Bruce Howlett


    I'm pretty much in agreement with you, but I propose that we call a meme the information contained in a transaction, the pattern if you will of the information being transferred. Just as what we call a gene is the encoded information contained in a segment of DNA, the pattern of information contained in an attempt to communicate an idea (a transaction) through words
    (narrative), actions, or artifacts is something we can point to and call a meme, although it has no physical manifestation other than the transaction itself. But it is not the transaction we should refer to as the meme, it is the pattern of information encoded in the transaction.



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