Re: i-memes and m-memes

Robin Faichney (
Mon, 30 Aug 1999 13:52:56 +0100

Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 13:52:56 +0100
From: Robin Faichney <>
Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes
In-Reply-To: <>

In message <>, James McComb
<> writes
>Bill Spight:
>In "The Evolution of Useful Things" Henry Petroski points out that the
>function of many surviving craftsman's tools is unknown, because the
>craftsmen who made them for their own use never revealed the secret of how
>they were used. Do we consider those tools and how they were used memes or
>not? The information was transmissible (heritable), but was never
>James McComb:
>Bill... They are no longer memes, but they are still potentially memes. If I
>might be so arrogant as to quote from my previous post:
><< Some replicators replicate well. Other replicators replicate poorly. But
>if a replicator replicates so poorly that it doesn't replicate AT ALL, then
>there is no point in continuing to view it as a replicator. >>

>Besides, without the appropriate decoding system, it becomes meaningless to
>talk of an artefact containing information.

Good point, but surely it means that the example above contains not even
a potential meme? (And I'm not happy with that concept. Is there any
systematic way to distinguish between potential memes and any other non-

>Speaking of decoding... Let us consider a simple case of memetic
>transmission, i1->m->i2. In order for the i-form to count as being
>successfully transmitted, the copy (i2) must be sufficiently similar to the
>original (i1).


>But there is another way of looking at it. The i-meme is successfully
>replicated if the process of decoding it is the INVERSE of the process of
>encoding it (i.e. the decoding acts to undo the encoding). In (rather
>informal) symbolism:
>i1 = i2 iff inv(m->i2) = (i1->m)

I think reciprocity of transformation *means* that i1 = i2. In other
words, that formula is tautological.

Robin Faichney
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