Re: Online Paper: "Ideas are Not Replicators but Minds Are" by Liane Gabora

From: Dace (
Date: Fri 24 Oct 2003 - 19:25:56 GMT

  • Next message: Danny Iny: "Re: Online Paper: "Ideas are Not Replicators but Minds Are" by Liane Gabora"

    > From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <>
    > Gabora misses the key point about meme. She says: "An idea is not a
    > replicator because it does not consist of coded self-assembly
    > To the contrary, ideas CAN have such instructions, and thus be
    > self-disseminating. Not all ideas do, and not all ideas are memes. But
    > can and do, and to the extent that they have these instruction sets, they
    > are memes.

    Here's a fine example of an idea that is not a meme (from a letter-to-the-editor of the Sept. 17th issue of my favorite newspaper, the Anderson Valley Advertiser):

    "Awhile back I got a letter in which the writer referred to the "DOHS." I thought, what is that? Isn't "DOH" what Homer Simpson says? Then, of course, I realized it meant "Department of Homeland Security," and the idea traveled through my brain until I reached the conclusion that it's almost inevitable that people will start called the DOHS people "Homers" sooner or later. So I hope you will consider using this term and encourage all your readers to do the same. (I don't have much time, Che, the Homers are on my trail)."

    --Clark Dissmeyer

    Right now, Mr. Dissmeyer's term for officials at the DOHS is just that-- a simple term-- and not a meme. While it's certainly a clever term, it hasn't reached that "tipping point" at which it ceases to depend on people thinking it's funny and begins propagating under its own momentum, as a sort of cultural force of habit. To claim that Mr. Dissmeyer has created a meme, which may or may not prove successful down the line, is to miss the point that a meme is a self-replicating idea. Just as there's a big difference between the conception and birth of a human being, a lot of development must take place before a meme is born out of a mere concept.


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