Re: Blue tie

From: Danny Iny (
Date: Sun 30 Nov 2003 - 18:22:10 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Blue tie"

    > Clearly, it's a meme. The question is when it became a meme, i.e., when
    > it cease to depend on human sense for its replication? Certainly when
    > began wearing it, it was not a meme. After all, he was the only one doing
    > it, and to be a meme it must spread to at least one other person. But
    > doesn't mean it automatically became a meme when Rove picked it up. As
    > as people wore it for the perfectly sensible reason of getting on W.'s
    > side, it transmitted through normal cultural means rather than
    > Only when people genuinely started to like it did it became a meme.
    > Suddenly, it was "happening," and instead of choosing the tie, the tie
    > choosing them. I'd say when the Queen showed up for her date with Bush
    > was wearing a white tuxedo) sporting a blue sash, we can pretty well
    > it's gone memetic. It had become a "thing," and naturally (as with the
    > Beatles 40 years ago) she wanted in on it.

    Could we be losing sight a little bit of what the theory of memetics is for? As I understand it, the theory is useful because it helps us understand cultural transmission of ideas (memes). Getting fiddly about when something exactly becomes a meme isn't that important (IMHO) because it stops helping us understand cultural transmission, which is what it's about in the first place. It's just like we talk about genes 'wanting' to replicate. It's great because it helps us understand natural selection, but only so long as in the back of our minds we remember that genes don't actually want anything. Just as 'want' is the genetics shorthand for 'organisms whose genes meet these qualifications will be more likely to survive and reproduce', the meme is a kind of shorthand to help us understand a semi-abstract concept.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. If I'm way off base then please correct me.


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