Re: i-memes and m-memes

Wade T.Smith (
Mon, 30 Aug 1999 12:58:01 -0400

Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 12:58:01 -0400
From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
To: <>

>I've been talking about "encoding" all along.

I did read on, and I mean 'encoding' as well. It is my position that an
object contains no encoding whatsoever, that such encoding is part of the
culture and not part of the artefact. Remove the culture capable of
decoding an artefact, and the object lapses to the inert. This inertia is
not a result of its 'encodings' being unavailable to another culture, but
the loss of the encoding structure, which _is the culture itself_.

Maybe we need an operational fulcrum here under the plank 'symbol'. Or I
do. Again, in my simple mind game with myself, looking at my bathroom
scale, asking myself what information is in _that_ object, I came away
with none.

And I think this is unique to 'human culture'. Right now, I do not see
birdsong as cultural, but more as a behavioral artefact without an
encoding structure other than genetic, closely tied to territorial
imperatives and instincts, but, I am willing to be moved from that
position, if only definitionally, a la Blackmore.

>But you take "contains" too literally.

I _do_ take things literally. I appreciate it. It helps people like
myself, laymen without jargon, to understand things. The object itself,
to me, literally, contains no information, certainly not 'potential'
information, whatever that means, and certainly not a 'potential meme'
whatever that means as well. And, yes, I think it contains no 'encoding'
either. It may be, or contain, a symbol of this encoding, but if we have
to talk of behaviors being memetic, we need to see the behaviors
themselves as objects, and, since perfect behavior is impossible (in that
it is subject to the same replicative errors as are all objects in this
forensic universe), then the behaviors are themselves symbols of the

Because, if any object contains memes, then _all_ objects contain
'potential memes' and, well, such universality is nice, but hardly

- Wade

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