Re: "minimum separabile" and the memetic code

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Sun 02 Feb 2003 - 00:44:22 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: "minimum separabile" and the memetic code"

    At 10:47 PM 01/02/03 +0200, you wrote:


    > > Memes are information. Information's basic measure is the "bit."
    > >
    > > Keith Henson
    > >
    >Hmm... The "bit" is a basic unit for data, not information. For example,
    >1101 = 13 does not look like meaningful information. Data lack context.

    Depends. Information theory measures information in bits. One of the shortest memes of historical massive significance I know is "separate condenser." (Watt's meme). That's 18 bytes, 144 bits, though it could be compressed further. And, of course, you had to have the context of an engineer who knew about the obvious shortcomings of atmospheric engines to appreciate this meme. But if you did, it was an instant religious-like conversion if you heard these words and understood them.

    >Googling around, I found out that the "infon" has been proposed as a unit
    >for information.
    >Now... a unit for memes could be different. Is a "replicated information
    >pattern" just information? There could be room for a unit concept for memes
    >if we manage to quantify memes and keep the analogies working.

    Why bother? If one happens to be concerned with the length of a gene, you measure it in base pairs. And, incidentally, there is a direct conversion between base pairs and bits.

    Keith Henson

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