Models for Interacting Populations of Memes:

Bruce Edmonds (
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 15:06:44 +0000

Message-Id: <>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 15:06:44 +0000
From: Bruce Edmonds <>
Subject: Models for Interacting Populations of Memes:

Models for Interacting Populations of Memes:
Competition and Niche Behavior

Michael L. Best
Media Laboratory,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


We make use of a set of text analysis tools, primarily
based on Latent Semantic Indexing, to study the
dynamics of memes on the Net. Our analysis discovers
replicating memes within posts to the USENET News
(or NetNews) system. We cluster the posts to NetNews
into clouds within a conceptual sequence space; these
clusters describe quasi-species. We then go on to study
the pairwise interactions between these quasi-species by
computing the cross-correlation between the interacting
population's level of post activity. We analyze a
particular corpus of posts to the soc.women newsgroup
and argue that strong negative cross-correlations are
examples of competition between the quasi-species. We
find that high levels of competition occur more
frequently among quasi-species who exist within a
narrow ecological niche. We note that this phenomena
also occurs in natural ecologies.

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