Re: i-memes and m-memes

Wade T.Smith (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 08:07:07 -0400

Subject: Re: i-memes and m-memes
Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 08:07:07 -0400
From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
To: <>

>"Memetic objects"
>doesn't do anything for me. I'm not sure if what you mean is
>"artefacts", but that is a concept I can work with.

Yes, 'artefacts' is sufficient- things created by intervention, like
tools, as opposed to things formed by natural forces, like shore-smoothed
stones and icicles.

> But without the possibility of
>decoding, in either case, the encoded information does not exist.
>That's because it is not contained within the artefact, but is a
>function of the relationship between that and the decoder.

I think we're happy here.

>What is a "memetic artefact"? The
>memes are the song similarities that occur due to imitation.

Well, the artefacts used in a Rossini overture are violins and bassoons
and cellos.... The imitative facility of a bird is not part of this
argument- the ability to enlarge this imitative capacity is. And I, for
one, just don't think the birds got what we got, and never will. And this
ain't because I think we're so bloody _special_, it's because we got
season tickets to the Boston Symphony. I ain't saying special, I'm
saying, hmmm, that's a real difference- where did it come from? (And,
yes, I'd _like_ to call this difference 'culture', although I like the
idea of a cultural continuum too.)

>>And I still like that phrase 'cultural evolution is an intuitive myth'.
>>Boy, do I like that phrase.
>Looks to me like it comes from someone fixated on the non-directionality
>of biological evolution.

Hmmm, maybe Gould originally, but, no- it came from one of the Bills
right here on this forum. And I still like it. It seems to me it agrees
with you more than me, well, agrees with those who call birdsong
'culture', though, which is why it hurts.

- Wade

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