New JoM-EMIT paper: Competing Meme Analysis by David Dirlam

From: Bruce Edmonds (
Date: Tue 06 May 2003 - 10:00:20 GMT

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                           Competing Memes Analysis
                               David K. Dirlam


         Aunger (2000) and Edmonds (2002) argue that memetics is a theory without a methodology, in imminent danger of dying from lack of novel interpretations and empirical work. Edmonds challenges memeticists to conduct empirical tests. This article presents Competing Memes Analysis, an empirical methodology that can readily be applied to significant social problems. The methodology is implemented in three steps. Step 1 identifies the organization of memes within an activity. Each activity is assumed to exhibit numerous small groups of memes where each meme within a group competes with all other memes in the group and can be combined with any meme from any other group. The succession of memes that occurs with increasing experience can be a powerful clue to identifying competing memes. Step 2 collects records of activities and codes them for the presence or absence of each meme identified in Step 1. Any activity that people acquire from each other by imitation can be readily coded for the presence or absence of competing memes. Step 3 analyzes changing frequencies of each coded meme over time or space. Models of these changes can give useful clues to suggest empirical studies that will provide important social and scientific results. Ecology’s Lotka-Volterra model of competing species illustrates the usefulness to memetics of population models.

         Keywords: memetic methodology, meme, drawing, writing, scientific research, Lotka-Volterra, competition

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