Re: Giving a presentation on memetics

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Mon 28 Nov 2005 - 03:11:35 GMT

  • Next message: Alan Patrick: "RE: Giving a presentation on memetics"

    >From: Ray Recchia <>
    >Subject: Re: Giving a presentation on memetics
    >Date: Sat, 26 Nov 2005 15:28:55 -0500
    >Depending on the size of the group maybe you could try the copying
    >experiment to demonstrate differences in transmission
    >1) Whisper a short sentence in the ear of one student, have them repeat to
    >the another and pass it around. Have the last person repeat what the
    >sentence has become
    >2) Draw a series of random squiggles, give it to the first student, have
    >him copy it, pass to the next student, have that student copy it
    >3) Draw a star, repeat
    >The star should come out the most accurate, because it is stored as a
    >concept, and because it is being transmitted through a permanent medium.
    If instead of coming up with a sentence at random, as it seems you're saying in your #1, if you were to use a well worn phrase (Bartlett's familiar quotations or a popular lyric) that most people are familiar with, wouldn't this be analagous to using the star in your #3? People are familar with pentagram stars and the hexagram Magen David, so if either was the starting point, you wouldn't expect much variation. But, if you were to pick a familar quotation as opposed to some sentence you constructed on your own, you'd probably not expect the outcome to be too divergent, given that each person in the series is familiar with the quote. Familiarity with a well known phrase would allow for self-correction. If one person garbled the phrase along the series and a subsequent person recognized enough of it to correct for errors the outcome could be similar to what we'd see with the star.

    A long quotation would be more difficult to faithfully reproduce, such as the entire Gettysburg Address. But so would a complex, but familiar visual representation, such as a drawing of a 20 dollar bill. In both cases there's a standard one can compare to for correction, but these aren't as easily recollected as a simpler visual representation (a star) or a short but familar quote, commercial catch-phrase, or song lyric.

    Trying to recreate a random squiggle would be like trying to recreate several lines of word salad, kinda like remembering my present post ;-)

    It's kinda funny that I should mention _Bartlett's Familiar Quotations_ since another Bartlett (Frederic) did some work along the lines of how stuff passes through a series of people.

    Plus word strings such as titles of movies or books would probably go through a series of people without too much divergence as long as most of the people involved are up on pop culture. If I were to say "Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in his book _The Selfish Gene_" to the first person in a series of 30 memeticists, how much variation would you expect? If I were to draw an accurate rendition of the face of a dime and pass this through a series of people at a numismatics enthusiast convention, how much variation would we expect in the outcome? If I drew a picture of my live oak tree in my front yard, what would we end up with at the end of the series of same coin collectors?

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon 28 Nov 2005 - 03:30:14 GMT