Re: Sticky Memes

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Wed 25 Jan 2006 - 19:26:34 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Xanadu meme, a case study"

    Chris Taylor wrote:
    >> Here is a possible explanation for all this, which has the virtue of
    >> being very simple in memetic terms. Are the stickiest memes simply
    >> those which do not have any competitors?
    >> (By "stickiest" here I mean the ones with the most lasting impact on
    >> our behaviour and beliefs, rather than just best-remembered ones.)
    > I think this is slightly complicated by the availability of a niche; a
    > meme could create its own niche (you'll wonder how you ever lived
    > without the X) or fill a hole, or displace a low grade resident. But if
    > there is no niche (I don't care one jot about Xs of any kind) there is
    > no foothold. Maybe we could also talk about 'setting time' to really get
    > stuck (in the sense of epoxy resin)?
    > So, 'fitness' x 'niche availability' x 'binding time' ?

    I've been pondering this "niche" talk. I'm not sure about it. I think
      there are different levels/types of meme - with some being skeletal
    (e.g. fashion) and others fleshing them out (e.g. individual fashions).
      And the skeletal memes are the ones which, if you get them create the need for a stream of relevant fleshy memes. Perhaps we could say that the skeletal ones create a niche for the fleshy ones. But I'm not sure whether this distinction has much of an impact on stickiness.

    >> And then the point from Jessner's paper, above, kicks in because as
    >> soon as you do encounter alleles you begin to metarepresent - to
    >> reflect on the similarities, choose between them, look for further
    >> alternatives, etc. Having encountered one allele you become more open
    >> to others: it opens your mind to the fact that there could *be*
    >> alternatives. It opens the doors to competition.
    > This seems to key nicely into our previous discussion about whether the
    > intellectual 'take off' in the very bright child is emergent (pure
    > memetic) or biologically triggered...

    This is interesting, yes. Is it that very clever children are more likely to realise more quickly that there are alternatives out there, because their innate tendency is to question the validity of *every* incoming bit of information - i.e. their instinct is to see every meme as an allele, rather than accepting what they are told? And also quicker to latch on to alternatives that they do encounter - to recognise them *as* alternatives perhaps, whereas other children might not even notice them. Plus quicker to learn in general so encountering novel information, including potential alleles, earlier. Unsurprising I guess to think that it might be a combination of innate and memetic factors!


    =============================================================== 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 : Wed 25 Jan 2006 - 19:48:37 GMT