Re: an aside on empirical memetics

Bill Benzon (
Tue, 10 Jun 1997 20:26:12 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 1997 20:26:12 -0500
From: (Bill Benzon)
Subject: Re: an aside on empirical memetics

Tim Perper says:
>The past-master at this sort of citation counting is Eugene Garfield,
>founder of the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia, which
>publishes Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Social Science
>Citation Index. Garfield was instrumental in developing "bibliometrics,"
>which is the study of cross-reference patterns among journals, scholars,
>and so forth. One of the big battles about bibliometrics was the use of
>"citations to" an author as a measure of his or her "productivity" for the
>purposes of tenure and promotion. I knew one case that almost went to a
>lawsuit on this issue.
Yes indeed.

>Anyone who wants to follow up citation patterns cannot do better than
>contact ISI -- they have immense amounts of data on it. It's no small
And they have a website (I think it's

In the early 80s they were working on something called co-citation analysis
as a way of discovering lines of investigation emerging in the "cracks"
between disciplines. Imagine that George is an evolutionary biologist and
Mary is an egyptologist. They work in different departments, belong to
different professional associations, and publish in different journals.
They don't know of one another's work. However, you look at the citations
in their articles and you see that both cite Dawkins and Dennet &
Cavalli-Sforza etc. so that there is an interesting overlap in their
bibliographies. Beyond that, you find that Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice
along with Harpo, Chico, Groucho & Zeppo etc. also cite those folks.
Perhaps these folks are moving toward a new discipline.

I have no idea whatever came of this, but it seems to be the sort of
technique which would be of use in empirical memetics.

William L. Benzon 201.217.1010
708 Jersey Ave. Apt. 2A
Jersey City, NJ 07302 USA

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