RE: New Memes Book

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue 05 Apr 2005 - 22:26:51 GMT

  • Next message: Bill Spight: "Re: New Memes Book"

    --- Vincent Campbell <> wrote:

    > Hi,
    > Been off over Easter, and have returned to find a
    > welter of memetics
    > postings. Only time to offer a brief comment on
    > dipping into all the
    > messages.
    Welcome back.
    > <This is certainly true, but not - on my
    account -
    > because the wheel
    > is a
    > > meme. I'd say that the wheel itself does not
    > contain any information
    > > about which of its characteristics is significant
    > - information that
    > > would be contained in an actual blueprint. If
    > someone who knows about
    > > wheels, or at least about how to build other
    > things from the materials
    > > involved, brings his existing memes to the
    > situation, then he could use
    > > them to construct a new representation of that
    > wheel, with information
    > > about the wheel's materials, construction, size,
    > etc. But that
    > > information is not intrinsic to the wheel.>
    > >
    > I seem to recall a discussion a while back on the
    > list that mentioned a
    > baseball bat in this sense. It's a very simply
    > implement to make a copy of
    > (well for someone who can work wood) but it's
    > inherent function and purpose
    > is not conveyed by the bat itself.
    And it could have secondary functions, like as a weapon. One might even assume that a bat is a weapon if they didn't have previous knowledge of baseball. If a group of people in a post-apocalyptic world were to unearth a cache of aluminum bats and had no clue what they were, what use might they put these things to?
    > Performance seems to come back to mind as well
    > though, beyond just
    > representations being enough for memes, or at least
    > the static
    > representations of, say, a blueprint.
    > I've recently been studying British Sign Language,
    > and one of the
    > interesting things is how the 'dictionary' of signs
    > we've been given isn't
    > that good for many signs, because they involve
    > motions that only an
    > instructor can really convey. (Actually as a social
    > scientist having to
    > learn something almost entirely from copying what
    > someone else is doing, is
    > a refreshing change, and a challenge.)
    You should try videos if they're available. There are videos for ASL. I would assume that watching a video would be an easier way to mimic the exact motion, but a book might give you good complementary information.
    > The offside rule in football (soccer to our american
    > cousins) on paper is
    > very difficult to understand, and even professional
    > footballers have a
    > difficult time trying to explain it, but show some
    > TV footage of an offside
    > goal and everyone but the linesman and referee at
    > the game can see what it
    > means.
    I had a hard time grasping the concept of American fotball when I was a kid, but I think reading books helped, so I wasn't as lost when watching the game being played. If you were to watch a game without any previous knowledge or someone to explain it, could you infer the rules? OTOH, reading a book without being able to watch a game being played would present its own problems.
    > Does that have much to do with structures in the
    > brain and so on as Chris
    > Taylor was railing against? I don't know.
    Much of what I've argued (I can't speak for Chris) is that we have a hard time making inferences about hidden information. Taking a *mild* behaviorist approach, it's much easier to observe behavior, but harder to know what's going on inside the head. Unlike Skinner I have no problems with mental level explanations, but see the limitations as he aptly points out. Plus I really don't know how we can assume a similarity at the mental level based on what we observe at the behavioral level. Like "they" say, there are many routes (internal processes) that we can use to reach the same destination (overt behaviors). Look at any major metropolis and the number of roads people could take from various starting points to reach a museum nd meet at a particular point at a given time. Maybe not the best analogy, but I hope it gets my point across.

    What could appear clear cut when comparing performances might turn into a mess when looking at what led to similar behaviors in different people, each carrying a personal history that makes them unique. I don't doubt that stuff is going on in the brain that results in imitated behaviors, but I wonder what's actually going on internally that leads to these behaviors and I'm hesitant to attach a label such as "meme" to it.
    > But
    > books are reproduced, TV
    > programmes videotaped, films put onto DVDs, music
    > onto MP3 etc. etc.
    > Representational artefacts are being reproduced
    > (replicated?) at a rate
    > we've never seen before.
    A picture is worth a thousand words.
    > Sorry for the meandering comments that the
    > discussion has long since passed
    > beyond. Just wanted to show I'm still out here for
    > what it's worth.
    Are you still watching the American TV show 24? When looking through the DVD's at a local store recently I noticed a show called MI-5 which looks like it could be a Brit version of 24. I could see how the title
    "MI-5" would give a show a distinctly British flavour.

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