Field Testing Meme Transmission.

Ken McE (
Wed, 09 Jul 1997 22:17:20 -0500

Date: Wed, 09 Jul 1997 22:17:20 -0500
From: Ken McE <>
Subject: Field Testing Meme Transmission.

- ----------------------------------------
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 1997 10:25:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: Tim Rhodes <>

The following is an idea I had several months ago for an experiment to
test the rate transmission of a set of memes (chain letters). Since it
has remained just an idea so far, I offer it up to all of you. If
wants to use it, please do.

(snip of fake cancer letter)
- ---------------------------------------------------
(snip of cancer societies denunciation of letter)
- -----------------------------------------------------
(general snip)


In the intervening time between when I received the original Jessica
Mydek letter and my discovery of its fraudulent nature I also received
three other copies of the same letter from three different, unrelated
sources. What a virulent little virus! I mused. This was just too
simple and beautiful and idea to let go to waste.

(Ken McE inserts Evil Laughter)

I propose creating a similar letter and tracking its movement through
e-mail using donation from sponsors hook to insure that we are notified
each time the meme is replicated. It seems like a simple experiment
could yield some very interesting results. There are, however, some


The first, and the only problem truly beyond my ability to overcome, is
the incentive to pass on the letter. Unlike the Jessica Mydek letter, I
would prefer that this virus was less fragile. There will be someone,
such as myself, who investigates the source of the letter. I want them
to find everything in order. I also have no wish to willingly deceive a
large number of people. There must be a legitimate cause and a real
sponsor donating to that cause with each transmission.

Some solutions have been proposed already, by friends (thanks Tony), and
think this is a problem that can be worked around.

My other problem is personal, I just don't have the free time to work on
this at the moment. So I give it to you all. If someone has the time
inclination to try this, all I ask is that you share your results here.

- -Tim Rhodes

Ken McE comments:
Some thoughts about this idea. Find a sponsor who has already donated
to something worthy in the past, and is planning to do so again. Piggy
back this project onto an existing donation. They get free advertising
in return for doing what they were planning to do anyway. Or find a
real cancer child, preferably one who is on the net.
You will need either software or volunteers to measure the mutation
rate in your responses. I hereby volunteer. What are you going to
count as distance from carrier to carrier in cyberspace?
I would like to suggest that several completely different copies of the
appeal be launched. A formal English version and a low (vernacular)
English version are obvious beginnings. The different versions would
lead to several different web sites, so as to have a good match between
site and letter.
I hate the thought (shudder) of doing anything to encourage SPAM, but I
have a copy of some kind of net trash that offers a free web site if you
correspond with them. I haven't had the nerve to find out what else
happens. If say, a dozen, members of this list would care to respond we
would then have paid for web sites to match up with versions of the
chain letters.
At the site(s) I would suggest we have the following: Ad(s) for
sponsor(s). A dollar-o-meter- something like a thermometer that goes up
as donations come in. A clear written promise that we will not sell or
give away the names of respondents. Some judicious words stating that
statistical studies may be done regarding responses. This way the truth
is present, in writing, even if modestly put.

Regards, Ken McE 8-)
=93Just blame it all on those pesky memes.=94 - W. L. Benzon

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