Re: List of meme definitions

Aaron Lynch (
Tue, 28 Apr 1998 01:40:03 -0500

Message-Id: <>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 01:40:03 -0500
From: Aaron Lynch <>
Subject: Re: List of meme definitions
In-Reply-To: <>

>Re the controversy about (when is a meme not a meme) whether written or
>otherwise non-dynamic formations of memetic material (such as this you're
>reading) are memes or not:
>I apologize if I'm reiterating something. I've only had the opportunity
>to monitor this list sporadically. Has anyone mentioned the fact that
>some genes are written down? Any gene can be recreated using synthesis
>techniques, and it is my understanding that some genes in their dynamic
>form (part of a living structure) are now obsolete, but recorded. What
>is a gene called when it is written down?

Technically, it is a symbolic representation of a gene, not a gene. It is
not enumerated when analyzing the prevalence of a gene. Less formally, the
written representation of a gene will still be called a "gene" much as a
photographic image of a car is called "a car." Keith Henson and I had a
long discussion about this and other matters about 14 months ago in
alt.memetics in a thread about meme definition. To be a "gene" in the
formal sense means to be instantiated in a the medium of a "genetic
material," which means nucleic acids on this planet. If the symbolic
representation is used to create the corresponding nucleic acid, then the
latter is a formally a gene.


--Aaron Lynch

THOUGHT CONTAGION: How Belief Spreads Through Society The New Science of Memes Basic Books. Info and free sample:

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