Re: Selfish meme?

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Mon Jan 28 2002 - 04:24:28 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Selfish meme?
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    > >What property should a meme have in order for you to call it a meme?

    > Information content and transmissibility.

    I agree, but words like horse and cow do that too they, perhaps
     descriptions like, 4 legged, ridable, herbivores, producers of milk, meat
    Both words are examples of short-hand representations of a whole list of
    properties. They spread as memes because it is advantageous to use in
    instead of each time having to explain in a lot of words what could be done
    one (horse or cow).

    I agree, they are not `exciting' memes. Too basic too boring, but they carry
    meaning nonetheless as they all stand for a list of unique properties.

    >> >From
    > >the looks of your reply it seems a meme should have meaning. But that
    > >every word has a meaning because if you omit any word in a sentence
    > >its meaning is changed or the sentence becomes non-sensical. Consider the
    > >trivial 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
    > >memetic as
    > >it can be transmitted to other hosts.

    > The trouble with using "meaning" is that it is highly subjective. "Horse"
    > or "cow" are just word pointers to objects. I don't consider such words
    > memes. Memes that spread like wildfire and massively affected human
    > history are "horses can be ridden!' and "you can make an eatable substance
    > that will keep from cow milk!"

    Now usefulness in survival (or usefulness in economic exploitation)
    comes into play ontop of the descriptive (pointer) meaning.

    > > > Memes don't have to be expressed in words. You would not have to use
    > > > single word to show someone how to chip out a "killer frisbee" a
    > > > and a half years ago, and the learned songs of birds and whales are
    > > > 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
    > >they will too produce memes (see the Meme-Machine) and transmission of
    > >memes will happen entirely electronic as software exchange between
    > >computers.

    > How memes are transmitted is not in my opinion very interesting. Why
    > people are affected by some and not by others is far more interesting to

    I agree with that, it's just that the invention of language meant a quantum
    in the transmittability of memes and today is the primary mode of


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