Re: Words and memes

From: Dace (
Date: Mon Feb 04 2002 - 19:39:51 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Words and memes
    Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2002 11:39:51 -0800
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    From: Keith Henson

    > Idea is very close in "meaning space" to meme, but meme has the
    > replication aspect attached.
    > So you could have Watt's *idea* about how to improve steam engines
    > "separate condenser" which you would use to describe Watt's study and
    > coming up with the idea. You would use the *meme* of "separate
    > condenser" when you wanted to talk about Watt's idea spreading like
    > wildfire among the steam engineers of the day.

    It was still an idea when it began spreading among engineers who studied it
    and approved of it, but before long its propagation would have taken on its
    own momentum and become memetic. Gradually the idea becomes set, and no one
    much examines it anymore. In other words, it wasn't simply an idea in
    Watt's mind and a meme in everyone else's. It began as an idea that spread
    through conscious intention and then picked up "steam" as it became
    ingrained. Even in Watt's mind it eventually would have become memetic.

    > I have often written that an idea fails to be a meme (at best it is a
    > potential meme) when someone has an idea and never communicates
    > the idea.

    True. It's not a unit of culture until it gets beyond the mind that
    generated it. Failing that, even if it becomes ingrained, it's not a meme,
    just a personal habit of thought.


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