Re: memetics-digest V1 #1299

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed 05 Mar 2003 - 15:36:13 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Uses for artifacts and memes (fwd)"

    All the work they do is valuable, but wouldn't you agree that there are limits on what can be gained? It's kinda like the fosil record, there's stuff that's been found and some details fleshed out but still much presently unknown and possibly lost forever.


    There are limits to even newly created artifacts. Bill Gates just revealed to China the source code of Windows. You probably use that code every day. What do you know about it? If you came across a copy of CPM today, what would it tell you about the culture in which it was created and used? And you are already completely familiar with that culture.

    Nothing from a single artifact is going to tell you everything you want to know about it. Culture is accumulated in bits and pieces. A single piece will not tell you about a whole culture. Just as one clue won't solve a mystery. Unless you already have the same information as the person who created the artifact you are left to guess what went into the making of it. But there are lots of clues in the artifact itself. Something made of bone, fur and sinue are going to infer a stage and type of culture in which it was created, even if it doesn't tell you everything you want to know about that culture. The more artifacts you can collect from that culture, the more you will learn about it. Expecting a few to reveal everything is a bit much to my mind.


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