Instance of Memetic dissemination

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Tue 11 Mar 2003 - 14:15:07 GMT

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     From a friend...


    >> Laurie
    >> Garrett of Newsday -- and author of a great work of contemporary
    >> history,
    >> The Coming Plague -- sent this email to a bunch of her friends. It got
    >> around. Then it got loose. Reportedly she is quite steamed about it, as
    >> well she might be. But it's been circulated to thousands already...]

    >From a colleague on the PHIL-LIT list I find out that there
    is quite alot of analysis and discussion of this e-mail out there. The e-mail, how it spread, and privacy issues which arise, along with lots of links, on LawMeme:

    Accidental Privacy Spills: Musings on Privacy, Democracy, and the Internet Posted by James Grimmelmann on Wednesday, February 19 @ 22:02:50 EST

    A journalist attends the World Economic Forum and writes her friends an email about the experience. Two weeks later, that email is on the Web, people she's never met are correcting her spelling, and the journalist is vowing to go back to longhand.

    Welcome to the world of accidental privacy spills. Compared with the problem of keeping personal email private, copyright and spam are easy.

    Davos was in the last week of January. In the next week, the email apparently circulated among a growing set of Garrett's friends and their friends. By the 6th of February, a copy of the email, by then forwarded several times, stripped of its original headers, and minus her last name, had made its way onto the "PH" mailing list run by the Institute for Psychohistory. And there it crossed the bloodstream, because the PH list is archived on the Web.

    We all know what happens once something is on the Web. On the 11th of February, the PH archive version of the email was linked from MetaFilter, a links-and-discussion site with strong blog community ties....

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