Re: information transmission

Mark Mills (
Sat, 6 Mar 99 16:59:03 -0600

Subject: Re: information transmission
Date: Sat, 6 Mar 99 16:59:03 -0600
From: Mark Mills <>
To: "Memetics List" <>


>I think you could not do without the concept of [information] transmission. ..

Based on the reaction of others, this is a common reaction.

>For example, imagine I go to speakers' corner (a place for soap-box
>preaching of politics for the common man in London's
>hyde park) and start to try and proselytise on some subject (we'll call it
>Roussoism!). If 50 out of the 100 people listening to
>me leave with the Roussoism meme in their head, your model might say that
>the meme had been recreated 50 times, but it
>leaves out all the questions of why (in my opinion, the interesting stuff
>in memetics).
>1.Were more people in the front than in the back *converted*?
>2.More men than women?
>3.More English-speakers than Swahali-speakers?
>And so on

I don't see why these questions should not be of interest in a world
where everyone accepted the notion that 'information cannot be
transmitted.' A researcher watching the spread of Roussoism would still
want to know why the people in the front were better at recreating
Roussoism, why women were better at recreating than men, etc.

>...question 1 is inescapably a question of transmission (think, for
>example, of how fads that are broadcast by television are less likely to
>*promulgate* and proliferate in areas with little or no
>TV reception).

Your question 1 might equally be about recreation. The fad marketer
knows that humans respond in relatively predictable ways. A successful
ad campaign stimulates desirable actions, generally purchasing actions.
The author of the ad campaign doesn't care if the 'buyer' understands the
ad as it was intended, all that matters is the action produced by
stimulation via advertising.

>If memes are still about fecundity, longevity and copying-fidelity (hello?
>anyone remember these terms?), I suggest
>transmission has a lot to do with at least two of these attributes.

The same terms are central in a world where everyone agrees that
'information cannot be transmitted.' One's notion of 'agency' is
somewhat changed, though. Fecundity of a meme's recreation would be a
function of the host's recreative ability rather than being a feature of
the 'thing' being transmitted.


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Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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