Re: Selfish meme?

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 22:52:19 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish meme?
    Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 13:52:19 -0900
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    > >>I see an even stronger relationship:
    > >>Words *are* memes (but not all memes are words).
    > >Exactly so, so why can't the study of words and how they are created and
    > >propogated provide clues to the essence of all memes as well as defining
    > >them, where they come from and what they do? We have a pretty good
    > >on words and language, so why is it so hard to understand what memes are
    > >in general? How can people deny that memes exist without saying that
    > >words don't exist? Or saying that words are not memes? It's an
    > >arguement.
    > >
    > >Grant

    > I really wish the list members would illustrate with examples. It is my
    > considered opinion that most of the time words are just words and not
    > memes. For example, "idea" is about as close as you can get to "meme."
    > you put it in the phrase "an idea that is passed on to another person" you
    > have the "meme about memes." As I have mentioned, one of the shortest
    > memes I know is Watt's phrase "separate condenser." It would have been
    > instantly understood by engineers of the time because they knew where the
    > big loses were happening in the crude engines of the day.

    What property should a meme have in order for you to call it a meme? From
    the looks of your reply it seems a meme should have meaning. But that again
    every word has a meaning because if you omit any word in a sentence either
    meaning is changed or the sentence becomes non-sensical. Consider the
    sentence: 'The bird flies to its nest.' and try to omit any word without
    changing its
    meaning. Therefore every word has a meaning and every word is memetic as
    it can be transmitted to other hosts.

    Talking about shortest memes: what about acronyms? Laser for instance
    or radar? Those are memes too, most people don't even know what the
    abbreviations stand for. Do you? Even shorter ones: CIA, FBI all are memes.
    Is it really necessary to know what the abbreviation stands for when you
    know their rough meaning?

    Even more extreme, what about reading marks: for example,
    the exclamation mark of which Kenneth is so fond of using.
    Or the German `umlaut', or those weird Swedish dots and dashes on or through
    characters? They all carry meaning as they change
    the semantics when omitted. They can all have unique properties and they can
    all be transmitted (by whatever means), they all are memetic I contend.

    > Memes don't have to be expressed in words. You would not have to use a
    > single word to show someone how to chip out a "killer frisbee" a million
    > and a half years ago, and the learned songs of birds and whales are memes
    > without words.

    Precisely so. According to the latest poll here on the list we have
    identified four
    modes of transmission: verbal, depiction, and ...?? When AI machines emerge
    they will too produce memes (see the Meme-Machine) and transmission of
    memes will happen entirely electronic as software exchange between `smart'


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