Re: Meme-physics

From: Douglas P. Wilson (
Date: Tue 22 Oct 2002 - 21:02:53 GMT

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    Is Darek Glazewski a real person and is he a member of this list? So far the only message from him was a quotation, replied to, in a message from Philip Jonkers <>, which happened to include:

    > My master's diploma paper focused on the role language
    > plays in social life.

    My own master's thesis was rather wide-ranging, but also included material on the role language plays in social life.

    > First of all, I am going to write my dissertation in memetics.
    > I am trying to find someone or someone's work which
    > aimed at carrying out a linguistic or should I say
    > sociolinguistic research (e.g. of slang, idiomatic
    > expressions, slogans etc) from the perspective of the
    > memetic theory.

    I am not an academic -- I went into industry after getting my Master's, but I have done some similar work on my own time ever since.

    > Therefore, I would be really obliged if you could help get
    > in touch with a person who has already tried to do it.

    I remain outside of acedemia, do I know I am not the person you want, although I have worked in this field for many years. But I could probably suggest somebody.

    > Then, I am also interested in getting in touch with somebody > who has tried to analyze memes as forms of energy.
    > Information can be (according to 2nd law of thermodynamics) expressed as energy.

    That's not strictly speaking correct. As entities of information memes should be considered as packets of "negentropy". Human genes are made of up DNA molecules which are in turn made up of atoms, but it is only in the most trivial way that we can say genes are made of matter. Memes such as popular phrases, urban legends, catchy tunes, and even computer viruses have a variety of substrates, including human brains, newspaper articles, AM radio waves and boot sectors of hard disks, but it would trivialize them to say that they are made either of matter or energy, since they are actually the information or negentropy encoded or transmitted on the substrate, not the substrate itself. That AM radio broadcast from the local radio tower is about 100 kilowatts of pure energy, but that energy is only important for conveying the music or information it contains, and that information -- those memes -- are correctly spoken of as negentropy, not as energy.

    I am sorry to be pedantic here, but I have learned the value of trying to be precise.

            dpw http://www.SocialTechnology.Org/dpwilson.html

    Should memes be considered ways
    > of transferring information and/or conveying messages, I claim they should
    > be presentable as forms of energy. Energy which is capable of influencing
    > largely human mind and counsciousness and, in a way, as many forms of
    > energy, it should be capable of shaping/reorganising matter.
    > I strongly believe that analysing memes as portions of energy and finding
    > way of combining memetics with Shannon's information theory as well as 2nd
    > law of thermodynamics (growing entropy) would take memetics into a more
    > scientific than philosophical direction.
    > I will be glad if anyone could help me. I am sorry if my message doesn't
    > comply with some internal netiquette of this discussion group. I should
    > blame it on my being an absolute novice here. I will reaaly appreciate any
    > feedback and guidance. I am strongly convinced that memtics has a real
    > potential as a descriptive and explanatory tool but I simply think that it
    > has to follow a straight path created by contemporary methodology (much as
    > am aware that this methodology may simply be of memetic nature or, as Kuhn
    > put it, it may be a paradigm waiting for a revolution :-)) )
    > Best regards,
    > Darek Glazewski

    It sounds to me that you want to revamp memetics into a more physical theory. Perhaps we should consider baptizing it meme-physics. I agree with you that memes are all about information but I fear it would be a formidable task to recast the whole theory in terms of energy, information and entropy. Perhaps you may want to have a look what the fellers at genetics have done already, after all one of memetics' floaters is analogy with genetics. If you want to describe memetics as a physics you have to describe evolution in terms of physics. People working on evolutionary models
    (of whatever phenomenon) may be of help to you. Is there a Derek Gatherer in the house?

    Anyway welcome aboard the band-wagon called memetics Darek, and oh no need to be apologetic regarding topics and such. Basically anythings goes on this list with the exception of name-calling and insulting pink unicorns...


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