Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id TAA14276 (8.6.9/5.3[ref firstname.lastname@example.org] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from email@example.com); Mon, 4 Feb 2002 19:25:11 GMT Message-ID: <004501c1adb1$0910d800$6a24f4d8@teddace> From: "Dace" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> References: <F236uciGbN23Wvg58w10000d0cd@hotmail.com> Subject: Re: Words and memes Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 11:20:39 -0800 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Priority: 3 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400 X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.50.4133.2400 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
Rod Farrell wrote:
> Last night, I discovered that some one had urinated in the phone booth.
> Subsequent to this, I informed one of the stewards (the people who look
> after the accommodation area of the platform), and my cabin mate.
> This morning I questioned the steward, who had professed to forget
> about the incident after I had told him. When I got to my lab my cabin
> mate contacted me to confirm my story as he was now retelling it to his
> This piece of knowledge is now replicating, with its success depending on
> the motives of the individuals it encounters. The steward did not want to
> communicate the meme as this may result in him having to perform the
> unsavoury task of cleaning the mess, communicating this knowledge to a
> colleague might also cause argument about who is responsible for
> cleaning it, upsetting the status quo in his work environment. My cabin
> mate on the other hand does not have this inhibition, and is encouraged to
> propagate this knowledge due to its salacious nature.
As long as the knowledge propagates according to conscious intention, it's
not a meme. One person retells the story because it's bizarre enough to get
people's attention. Another doesn't tell it because he's afraid he'll have
to clean up the mess. It's all intentional. The knowledge is being
passively replicated (or withheld) through conscious descisions, rather than
actively self-replicating. With no motive-power of its own, it stops
circulating once everyone gets tired of it.
That memes spread without rational intent doesn't mean they can't still be
perfectly rational. Memes don't care whether they make sense or not-- they
just propagate. The meme for peeing in toilets is rational, but because we
accept it reflexively, it propagates without our conscious examination of
its merit. You don't have to stop and think, "Does this really make sense?"
every time you go to the bathroom to pee. A meme is an idea that thinks
itself, so we don't have to bother.
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)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Feb 04 2002 - 19:33:53 GMT