Re: information transmission

SOC MicroLab 2, UEA, Norwich (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 17:57:01 GMT

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 17:57:01 GMT
From: "SOC MicroLab 2, UEA, Norwich" <>
Subject: Re: information transmission

Mark wrote


>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
>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
>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
transmitted.' A researcher watching the spread of Roussoism
would still
want to know why the people in the front were better at
Roussoism, why women were better at recreating than men,

>...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
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

The same terms are central in a world where everyone agrees
'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.


I'm not sure I've made myself clear enough. I think someone
else mentioned it later on in this post. What I'm saying is
that whether or not you want to use the idea of recreation
as a metaphor (or whatever) for how info gets from one mind
to the other, the fact of the matter is that IT STILL DOES
GET TRANSMITTED. That is to say, it goes from one mind to
the other, via a medium (into which it has to be encoded in
one physical form or another - sound waves, radio waves,
smoke signals, semaphore, etc.)
The reason that transmission is important, especially for
evolutionary theory, is that things can take place in that
medium (which are nothing to do with either mind, sender or
receiver) that can effect the success of the recreation (I
nearly called it transmission there!) of the the info in
the other mind. The speakers corner analogy was to show that
the people at the back might not be able to hear as well as
those at the front - that's a physical, spatiological
constraint that has nothing to do with either mind's ability
to recreate information. Likewise the difference between
sending semaphore with or without a wall being in the way.
Or sending smoke signals in a heavy wind.

Memetics, being an evolutionary theory, is about the
replicators AND their environments - WITHOUT THE
linchpin of evolutionary theory). To put it simply, in
memetics, your concept of recreation is about the
replicators, and transmission is about the environments -
you need both.

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)