Re: Comments on Brodie's Posting

Jon Cortmaior (
Sun, 8 Jun 1997 14:36:44 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Sun, 8 Jun 1997 14:36:44 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jon Cortmaior <>
Subject: Re: Comments on Brodie's Posting
In-Reply-To: <>

> TP>>
> >>In my own view, memes are simply packages of information that are
> >>circulated in a society. Knowing a piece of information -- a meme --does
> >>nothing to you. Thus: "To make fried potatoes, take boiled potatoes,
> >>slice them, and fry them until yellow-brown." Has any reader leapt up,
> >>driven like a robot, to perform these instructions? In what precise sense
> >>is it alleged that "memes" cause or induce behavior? Until that issue has
> >>been addressed, memetics is silliness -- pure verbalism claiming to be
> >>significant understanding.
On one hand, you're right. Making fried potatoes isn't exactly the most
compelling example of what a meme is. Or is it? On the one hand, it doesn't
scream out "GO FRY POTATOES!!", nor does it compell the holder of such
knowledge to share, at least not all the time. On the other hand...if the
person is hungry...then perhaps simply because they know how to make fried
potatoes, they will. They might even give the fries to someone else...and
they might say "how did you do that?" ...leading to the reproduction
of the meme...albeit, a long drawn out one....
There's more to this, though. We have to consider context. Among us, a group
of people that are (this my guess, anyways) more inclined towards things of
an intellectual bent...memes about fry making and pie making and such are of
little importance. We do not really feel inclined to share recipes with each
other. But that would be _us_.
Among a group of culinary artistes, the debate over how to make "Proper fried
potatoes" might be a long and painful one (perhaps even leading to blows!).
THey will discuss the proper color, the boiling time, the type of oil, etc.,
etc., etc., ad naseum. The intricacies of memetics, on the other hand,
will probably hold about as much interest to a bunch of chefs, as the
intricacies of potatoe frying hold among us. ie. none whatsoever.

My original point is that just because the fried potato recipe doesn't make
_us_ go jumping up and down and sharing it, doesn't mean that in certain
circles it doesn't happen. Come to think of it, most of my collegues at work
(computer geeks all of us) would probably rather discuss fried potatoes than
memes anyday...

It occurs to me, now, that perhaps memes might be divided into categories,
contextual, and non contextual. Fried potato recipies would seem to be
contextual. hmmm. actually I can't think of an idea right now that wouldn't
be context dependent...oh well maybe I'm wrong. heh. more than likely.
So shoot me. I'm new here.

Jonathon Cortmaior
The Net is a dangerous place to send naive students. You may as well send
them to the nearest laundromat to learn about quantum mechanics. They
might get lucky, but they're more likely to return as members of a new church.

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