Complexity and Memetics

From: Samuel Rose (
Date: Tue 03 Dec 2002 - 16:35:38 GMT

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    Hello memetics list,

    My name is Sam Rose. I'm an independent researcher of Complex Adaptive Systems, memetics, futures studies, and media ecology. I've spent the last couple of years studying the BIO-PSYCHO-SOCIAL emergent, cyclical levels of existence (ECLET) theories of Dr Clare W Graves and it's spin off theories. I haven't had the chance to comb through all of the archives yet, but I was hoping to strike up a dialogue here relating complexity to memetics.

    So far, my only exposure to memetics has been through Aaron Lynch's
    "Thought Contagion" Robert Aunger's "Darwinizing Culture" and "The Electric Meme" (still reading electric meme now). If anyone can recommend any other work, feel free to do so.

    I am most interested now in understanding how memes work into self sustaining non-linear systems. The self-assembly of memes seems to reflect the behavior of "strange attractors" in CAS theory. The self replication and non-linear transmission of memes seems to be an integral part of biological, psychological, and social systems. I think CAS and memetics can help us understand why a system may "break down" and reassemble into separate systems under certain conditions. This can often be seen on internet mailing lists that discuss theories dealing with human social interaction systems in real time, like memetics. To discuss something like memetics, we may want or need to use current events in order to test or models, theories and hypothesis. These discussions are self sustaining until a global event happens and is brought into the system that causes some degree of dissonance. Most of the participants in the online discussion group are also simultaneously part of larger systems. Global events seem to both generate and activate memes within individuals. If the paradigms those memes are tied to are drastically different for individuals who make up a system, then the system may break down and reassemble into two or more new systems, though they may still exist within the same environment (an internet discussion list, for instance). One theory says that this "dissonance" is caused by collections of memes, or "meta-memes" that make up an individual and group complex adaptive system.(that theory is spiral dynamics see: It seems there is a cultural/social view, a psychological view, and a biological/genetic view into these types of systems. Internet subcultures like discussion groups and lists seem to be more vulnerable to the break down of self sustenance than face to face relationships. At the same time they can be valuable learning tools, and information can be shared more efficiently, and a broader base can be observed than in face to face type relationship systems.

    Anyway, I am interested in creating dialogue about these things. Any suggestions, clarifications, corrections, admonishments, brow beatings, or compliments are welcome.

    Sam Rose Founding Member The Billions of Minds Project

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