Re: Mini case study of memetic mutation

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Thu 07 Nov 2002 - 15:36:13 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: Mini case study of memetic mutation"

    >Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 23:13:31 -0800
    >Dear Richard,
    > > <<Note that this memetic evolution is entirely in terms of expressions.
    > > <smile>, <s>, and :-) all mean the same thing. This means that memes are
    > > *not* ideas, at least not all memes. The idea stayed the same while the
    > > expression evolved. Those favoring internal memes need to account for
    > > such change.>>
    > >
    > > I'm not sure I get your point here, Bill. How does the fact that
    > > <s>, and :-) all mean the same thing" lead to the conclusion that not
    > > memes are ideas? Are you saying that ideas are not involved in my
    > > how I express myself?
    > >
    >Ideas may be involved in how we express ourselves, and, in general,
    >alternatives differ in both denotation and connotation. But ideas are
    >general and abstract. (The OED gives some senses of "idea" that would, I
    >think, apply to expressions per se, but they are obsolete.) In this case
    >we have three different expressions of the same idea. They were in
    >direct competition, and that is why, I think, one scored a clear
    >victory. That process of variation and selection did not occur on the
    >level of ideas, but it was still the variation and selection of memes.
    >Phonemes are even clearer examples of memes that are not ideas. Welsh
    >LL, which is pronounced like HL with the tongue in the L position when
    >the H is made, has two descendents in English, FL and L, as in Floyd and
    >If you restrict memes to ideas you leave out a good bit of culture.
    I think you're missing something if you don't see the symbols for smile, frown, etc. as the encoding of ideas. They also carry information about the statement or message they are attached to. The extension of facial expressions, which have been used to encode feelings since before language was developed, to symbols that can be used in written communications just like the words I am typing here, is no different to my mind than any other meme. "I am smiling here" is an idea. That is the information contained in the symbol :). It is also contained in <smile>, <s>, etc. What has evolved is the encoding and transmitting of information.

    All of the symbols we use to communicate, including periods (this is the end of my statement), commas (this to separate two or more adjectives or adjectival phrases), semicolons (this is a complete idea followed by another complete idea), and so on. (Not that these uses of the symbols are the only uses.) Their verbal equivalent serves the same purpose. The pauses in our speech convey information about the encoding process. How we are encoding the information is as much an idea as the information conveyed by that process. It's as much a tool to hold and transmit information as the words, sentences, paragraphs, etc.

    Information about the encoding process and information carried by the encoding process are different ideas and are being used for different purposes on different levels, but they are all ideas consciously being used to convey what's in my mind to your mind.


    _________________________________________________________________ Add photos to your e-mail with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu 07 Nov 2002 - 15:39:53 GMT