Memes

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Memes

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:08 pm UTC

It has occurred to me that, since memes are affected by something akin to natural selection (hence the origin of the term "meme" in the first place), it follows that they should follow some of the same rules which apply to any organism which goes through symbiosis with a human host. These essentially fall into three categories: mutualistic, commensal and parasitic. Of course, the distinctions might not be quite so clear in the case of memes, but I'll give an example of what I'm talking about. Dawkins, in "The Selfish Gene", apparently describes religion as a commensal meme, spreading by means of its message of fear of retribution, reward of good deeds, and unquestionability without necessarily harming or benefiting its human "hosts" (there are cases where it does one or the other). Somewhat more counterintuitive are the properties of downright parasitic memes, such as that which roughly corresponds to the emo stereotype. As mentioned in the "get over yourself" thread, there are plenty of people who do things - such as self-harming and even attempting suicide (sometimes successfully) - and, while this can to an extent be justified psychologically through, say, the need for attention, I'd say there was a meme involved too. The idea of self-harming usually isn't just thought of independently by the many people who practise it; it spreads by communication. It is successful as a meme because it is good at spreading, not because it benefits the human "host".

This thread is for discussion of the relationship between memes and the laws governing them, and physical organisms and natural selection. Also, it is for discussion of the effects of memes on humans and society. As far as I can find, there isn't currently a thread for discussion of how life should actually be defined, so perhaps that belongs here too.
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:21 pm UTC

Hmm. This is a tricky subject - the concept of idea propagation is very tenative, and the science is barely existant, though the idea itself is absolutely fascinating. So I guess we can start by proposing possible mechanisms and testing standards for the field. Hmm...

Edit: I'm going to try to see if I can actually describe what a meme actually is.
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Re: Memes

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:10 pm UTC

It is generally said that you cannot kill an idea. This is largely true, and killing the origin just makes it propagate that much faster, nonsensical though that may be.

It is very new science, and very accurate and interesting science. I've watched the spread of social ideas in Britain for a while now, and it seems that most non-contested ideas (religion being a contested one) have exponential growth propensities, though they do need hosts. Once there is a contrasting idea in existence, the two will go head to head for hosts.

For a classic example of everything I just spoke of, read up on the Hussite Wars.
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:39 pm UTC

Insignificant Deification wrote:This is largely true, and killing the origin just makes it propagate that much faster, nonsensical though that may be.


I disagree with this, but it does make me think we could describe a similar but more accurate concept.

Proposed: That the rate at which a meme propagates is strongly correlated with the degree of action to which the meme causes individuals to take action in response to it.

As for how we'd test it, eh...
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Re: Memes

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

For anyone interested in this subject (memes), I HIGHLY recommend Neal Stephensons Snow Crash, as it is about just this topic (among other awesome things). He addresses religion being analogous to an infection in humanity (either beneficial or detrimental, he doesn't really say which), and talks about the original creators of culture/consciousness as being neurolinguistic hackers. Whoof.

That idea's and beliefs are quanta which propagate through the human created media is of great interest to anyone who's ever looked at an advert, heard a catchy tune, been nagged by something they can't forget, felt the need to share a meme...

I'd say a meme is anything that can be communicated, a packet of information that can be relayed from one entity to another. Loose definition.

Asimov's Foundation felt to me like it was touching on the idea of meme prediction, similar to the way that genetic drift can calculate phenotypic frequencies over generations.
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Re: Memes

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:18 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Asimov's Foundation felt to me like it was touching on the idea of meme prediction
That's an incredibly good point. I might reread it at some point with that idea in mind.
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Re: Memes

Postby Ari » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:29 pm UTC

On your mention of self-harming- it's assuming a lot to say it's an idea that is gained through communication even primarily. Do we honestly assume people so brain-dead that they cannot think of lashing out when they're upset? Why is scapegoating yourself in this case treated differently to scapegoating someone else? You don't need to be told about self-harm or suicide to do it.

No, the problem is not being told about it. The problem is having it reinforced. This can happen in either a positive fashion or a negative fashion. That is, the first option is that you have friends, peers, or role-models who discuss self-harm or suicide as desirable, as worth contemplating, as potentially peaceful or relieving. The other option is that you're driven to it by reinforcing the negative feeling in your life- telling yourself you're so miserable, being tormented by your peers, rejected by potential friends, etc... There's certainly a sense of both of these in the emo subculture, but that is not the only way to subject yourself to that kind of reinforcement of harmful behaviour. :(

Indon wrote:
Insignificant Deification wrote:This is largely true, and killing the origin just makes it propagate that much faster, nonsensical though that may be.


I disagree with this, but it does make me think we could describe a similar but more accurate concept.

Proposed: That the rate at which a meme propagates is strongly correlated with the degree of action to which the meme causes individuals to take action in response to it.

As for how we'd test it, eh...


Actually, I'd more say that curiosity of a potential host about a meme increases as that meme becomes suppressed- do keep in mind that if memes are worth talking about as a concept, they have meaningful differences from genes, in that people can choose to learn about them or not, and that appeal is more direct than with genes- if genes are appealing, you're more likely to select a partner with them, and if you successfully reproduce, your kids gain either .25 or .5 more probability than otherwise to have that trait. (this is ignoring more complicated cases like adoption or in vitro fertilisation for homosexual couples) Memes, however, are spread through direct exposure, deliberate or accidental.

And rebellious or oppressed ideas are sexier, causing people to seek out deliberate exposure to them more often, and possibly adopt them when they otherwise would not. I'm sure you've all seen the white guys who try to be gangstas even though they weren't born anywhere near a ghetto, for instance.
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:35 pm UTC

Ari wrote:And rebellious or oppressed ideas are sexier, causing people to seek out deliberate exposure to them more often, and possibly adopt them when they otherwise would not. I'm sure you've all seen the white guys who try to be gangstas even though they weren't born anywhere near a ghetto, for instance.


My proposal covers that - the desire to repress a meme is part of the effort one takes as part of being exposed to it. However, it also covers memes which spread like wildfire and don't get supressed -did you know that we only use 10% of our brains? - this meme seems strongly correlated to believing in psychic powers, for instance, so it seems my proposal would posit that this meme spreads because it increases belief in psychic powers in its' carriers.
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Re: Memes

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:39 pm UTC

Ari, that's what I really meant to say: that the idea of self-harm as a "good thing" was initially suggested or later reinforced by others.
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Re: Memes

Postby Ari » Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:03 am UTC

Indon wrote:My proposal covers that - the desire to repress a meme is part of the effort one takes as part of being exposed to it. However, it also covers memes which spread like wildfire and don't get supressed -did you know that we only use 10% of our brains? - this meme seems strongly correlated to believing in psychic powers, for instance, so it seems my proposal would posit that this meme spreads because it increases belief in psychic powers in its' carriers.


Haha, I know that one ;) (I think I actually made a relevant joke about it in another thread) I'm not necessarily sure you actively have to repress a meme to not believe in one, at least not for very long.

I guess I sorta read your last post more as "take action because they have adopted the meme". :) I guess I think seeking out new knowledge is fundamentally different to acting on it. You might collect a lot of memes in your life that are absolute junk, but if you never spread them or act on them, then the net change to your life is zero. :)
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Re: Memes

Postby 4=5 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 2:22 am UTC

what about memes that people concurrently come up with? like walking funny across patterned ground.

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Re: Memes

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:21 am UTC

It isn't a meme, it doesn't spread from person to person except in the cases of people that easily form habits.

Mostly, walking funny on floor-tiles is a pattern-recognition & obedience thing. Much like counting your steps and other things one does habitually that can be described in terms of mathematics. It is especially prevalent amongst those for which patterns are:
a) Easily recognized
b) Vital (as in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Which I have. Which is why I know this stuff.)
c) Of interest (efficiency, amusement, etc.)
d) Automatically adhered to

It isn't so much an idea as an extremely minor syndrome.
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Re: Memes

Postby 4=5 » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:39 am UTC

hmmm,

I wonder if there is a name for memes that spread because of tendencies of people to already obey them

like avodeingcracks

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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:59 am UTC

4=5 wrote:what about memes that people concurrently come up with? like walking funny across patterned ground.


I'm not entirely sure this is a meme, so much as it is the consequence of minor memes regarding sorting and/or symmetry.

That said, I don't feel that any idea can be a non-meme. "Lots of people walk funny across patterned ground" is a meme - a communicable concept. There seem to be no other requirements to be a meme - a meme doesn't need to be good at propagating, as we can describe such memes as memes with little ability to propagate (just like a horribly bad gene for an organism is still a gene - it just has a low chance of being passed on).

As for initial memetic development, I posit that because humans are social beings, and almost always act as if we are communicating, that observations of our natural environment form memes as a result of cause and effect relationships being interpreted as communication. I further propose that this is likely one of a few major origins of memes, along with memetic recombination (a concept I hope to define decently once I've thought about it a bit longer).
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Re: Memes

Postby mspickle » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

I think the "meme" idea (which is a "meme" itself) is just that- an idea. Taking the word "idea" and calling it a "meme" doesn't change what it is. Ideas are transferrable but when it is transferred from one person to another, it is going to be manifest slightly more differently in the second person.

Have you ever played "telephone"?

Ideas (including songs, ditties, refrains, maxims, superstitions, whatever) really aren't the same thing as genetic information or even viruses (a meme hijacking your brain and taking hold). Sorry. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Genes are made of specific alignments of 4 chemicals (guanine, etc.) to make instructions for proteins. Ideas/memes are, well, ideas/memes. Physically, neural synapses connecting...?

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Re: Memes

Postby Belial » Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:50 pm UTC

You're taking it too literally and too specifically.

Don't think of a gene as what it's made out of or shaped like, think about what it *is* and what it does, what makes it a gene and not just another chemical: it's a self-replicating pattern.

Which is where the comparison to memes comes in: memes are self-replicating patterns of thought in the same way that genes are self-replicating patterns of organic molecules. You're comparing the behaviour of memes to that of genes, not the composition.
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

Yeah. The idea is to make 'meme' into a fancy, scientific-like word for 'idea' and then develop theories about the development and propagation of ideas.

The thought that ideas change a little whenever conveyed is an awesome thing for fledgling memetic science to study. It could give us insight as to both how humans communicate, and how they recieve communication.
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Re: Memes

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:49 pm UTC

Hypothetical: DNA is 'serviced' by a myriad of cellular components. Polymerase, ribosomes, tRNA, mRNA, Pol1-3 or so, on and on. The information in DNA is not accessible without other machinery in place, and as such, requires a separate set of organized 'stuff' to be used.

What if memes are similar? What is theres an underlying machinery to interpreting and categorizing memes. What if this machinery can be hijacked? Manipulated?

Think GMO's. Think retailored thoughts. Think Bene Gesserit hypnosis and auditory cuing.
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Re: Memes

Postby chaosspawn » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:47 pm UTC

Well I doubt meme and genes are a perfect analogy, but it seems to me that the underlying transport is human communication, or perhaps your psyche, so I don't think meme hijacking a foreseeable issue. People do try to create new memes all the time though especially with advertising, but as far as I know, nobody knows exactly what will catch on and what won't.
I find the hypothesis interesting that a meme is something onto itself. Usually I have understood the concept of a meme's spreading is related to how it helps a person survive. That because they have the belief which has helped them survive, the survive long enough to pass it to their offspring. I think this model may have been invalidated with writing though, because it allows the information to outlive the person. Now with mass media this seems to be even less the case. I think this makes the spreading of memes more of a psychological study, and too difficult to predict the fates of specific ideas.
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Re: Memes

Postby Lulie » Thu Jan 24, 2008 9:43 pm UTC

It seems like there's a lot of guesswork and/or confusion about what memes actually are, what they do and so on. So here are my two cents...

Put simply, a meme is an idea that is passed on from person to person. Memes evolve to be better and better at passing themselves on, and they evolve to stay there (if they didn't, and were were easily forgotten/got rid of, they wouldn't last too long).

Because memes have been around since humanity began (or before), some of them have survived quite a while and are pretty strong. They're designed to stay with you and pass themselves on to others. Traditions, culture, all that stuff, are memes.

There are two types of meme: the static meme and the dynamic meme.

The static meme -- AKA anti-rational meme -- spreads itself by disabling its holders critical faculties; in other words, they make their holders feel unable to criticise them, or else the holders don't even think to question their value. (For example, 'if you doubt God, you'll go to hell'. This shows a case where someone wants to question/criticise the idea of God, but the meme disables that by saying that if he does so, he'll go to hell. )

The dynamic meme -- AKA rational meme -- spreads itself by withstanding criticism; by being a good/true idea. The ones that stay the longest are usually the ones that are closer to the truth(/good idea/whatever), because their competitors get knocked out from criticism. Most science would fall under this category.

This idea of static/dynamic memes is due to David Deutsch, which we can hopefully read about in his next book.

For about this idea, I recommend checking out this post in Elliot Temple's blog: link removed (It explains memes in terms of some of the most powerful: parenting memes.)

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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:36 pm UTC

Lulie wrote:The static meme -- AKA anti-rational meme -- spreads itself by disabling its holders critical faculties; in other words, they make their holders feel unable to criticise them, or else the holders don't even think to question their value. (For example, 'if you doubt God, you'll go to hell'. This shows a case where someone wants to question/criticise the idea of God, but the meme disables that by saying that if he does so, he'll go to hell. )

The dynamic meme -- AKA rational meme -- spreads itself by withstanding criticism; by being a good/true idea. The ones that stay the longest are usually the ones that are closer to the truth(/good idea/whatever), because their competitors get knocked out from criticism. Most science would fall under this category.


I don't really at all see how this categorization could hold to any rigor. What about incorrect ideas which have no effect on an individual's rational capability, like an urban legend? Or memes with no truth-value at all, like morals, ethics, and that wearing pink is girly?

While I have no interest in the source, so I really can't say this with any confidence, this seems to be the ramblings of someone more interested in conveying his opinions about religion than in studying the development and evolution of ideas.
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Re: Memes

Postby Ari » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:43 pm UTC

chaosspawn wrote:Well I doubt meme and genes are a perfect analogy, but it seems to me that the underlying transport is human communication, or perhaps your psyche, so I don't think meme hijacking a foreseeable issue. People do try to create new memes all the time though especially with advertising, but as far as I know, nobody knows exactly what will catch on and what won't.
I find the hypothesis interesting that a meme is something onto itself. Usually I have understood the concept of a meme's spreading is related to how it helps a person survive. That because they have the belief which has helped them survive, the survive long enough to pass it to their offspring. I think this model may have been invalidated with writing though, because it allows the information to outlive the person. Now with mass media this seems to be even less the case. I think this makes the spreading of memes more of a psychological study, and too difficult to predict the fates of specific ideas.


I don't think you even need communication for memes. Lighting sticks on fire is a meme. Only stepping on certain tiles is a meme. You can transmit those directly by example if the rule behind them is transparent enough.

Advertisers also have some good guesses, but they sorta face a prisoner's dilemma issue- an advertising tactic becomes less effective as more and more people do it.

Lulie wrote:There are two types of meme: the static meme and the dynamic meme.

The static meme -- AKA anti-rational meme -- spreads itself by disabling its holders critical faculties; in other words, they make their holders feel unable to criticise them, or else the holders don't even think to question their value. (For example, 'if you doubt God, you'll go to hell'. This shows a case where someone wants to question/criticise the idea of God, but the meme disables that by saying that if he does so, he'll go to hell. )

The dynamic meme -- AKA rational meme -- spreads itself by withstanding criticism; by being a good/true idea. The ones that stay the longest are usually the ones that are closer to the truth(/good idea/whatever), because their competitors get knocked out from criticism. Most science would fall under this category.


While I agree that if it's worthwhile thinking about memes we can certainly subcategorise them, I think this terminology is blatantly misleading. Irrational memes are not static, they just function off belief and faith rather than reasoning. They're intuitive, rather than perceptive ideas. They still have incredible power to spread, as you can see from the incredible religious saturation around the world, and they're just as dynamic as rational memes- people construct their religious beliefs around their intuition, not the other way around. Hence you have both Christians who support the death penalty, and those who oppose it.

Secondly, irrational memes are not necessarily anti-rational. Some really great thinkers are liberal Christian scientists. That said, anti-rational memes do exist, in the form of flat-earthers, evangelical Christians, and many other groups that are big fans of the "no true Scotsman!" argument.
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Re: Memes

Postby Lulie » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:07 am UTC

How could the meme's replicating ability work other than the ways I've described? Why do they spread, and why do they stick?


By the way, sorry if it sounded I was anti-Christianity. I'm not one of those atheists who go around saying "religion is a delusion!" or anything like that. I just used the God illustration because it's a good, explicit example of what I was trying to say -- it's a case where it actually says that if you don't believe in the it, something bad will happen.


(Also, apologies about the link -- will wait until I've written more posts next time I do that.)

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Re: Memes

Postby Robin S » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:17 am UTC

Ari wrote:I don't think you even need communication for memes. Lighting sticks on fire is a meme. Only stepping on certain tiles is a meme. You can transmit those directly by example if the rule behind them is transparent enough.
Demonstration is a form communication (see the Wikipedia article).
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:29 am UTC

Lulie wrote:How could the meme's replicating ability work other than the ways I've described? Why do they spread, and why do they stick?


Firstly, go post in the intro thread.

Secondly, it seems that all memes spread through communication that causes individuals to take action which causes the meme to be communicated. This communication can be direct, in the case of teachings, or it can use the environment as a proxy, in which one individual takes actions which cause others to draw the meme from the environment.

To try to address memes as evoking higher-level emotions seems to be unlikely to be comprehensive - ideas are very complex and diverse, and our descriptive framework for them is sorely lacking to be able to attempt to describe such effects with them in any effective manner.

Thirdly, as for sticking, well, I feel that all memes, when learned, remain carried basically for life. The meme can be forgotten, like any thought, when an individual does not think about it. The only way a specific meme does not propagate is that its' carriers are killed, do not communicate the concept, or all change the concept when communicated.
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Re: Memes

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:49 am UTC

*Twitch* Please, explain why walking on tiles in a pattern is a meme. I've been over my side of it.

[edit]@4=5: Fair enough.[/edit]

Meme transmission happens over the entire spectrum of communication, the more base the communication the better, I would think. To attempt to classify ideas into a dichotomy makes the same mistake the very early taxonomists made in putting everything in animals or plants. There's more to it. There are for example: Non-rational rapidly evolving memes, which are not static and may change within their host. Development of outlook on life seems like a good example here, and o-o-l seems to spread easily from person to person.

Moving on...
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Re: Memes

Postby 4=5 » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:26 am UTC

Insignificant Deification wrote:*Twitch* Please, explain why walking on tiles in a pattern is a meme. I've been over my side of it.


it is a meme also because I'm more likely to do it once I've heard that other people do, and to walk funny in the ways I've heard of

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Re: Memes

Postby Ari » Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:50 am UTC

Lulie wrote:How could the meme's replicating ability work other than the ways I've described? Why do they spread, and why do they stick?


By the way, sorry if it sounded I was anti-Christianity. I'm not one of those atheists who go around saying "religion is a delusion!" or anything like that. I just used the God illustration because it's a good, explicit example of what I was trying to say -- it's a case where it actually says that if you don't believe in the it, something bad will happen.


(Also, apologies about the link -- will wait until I've written more posts next time I do that.)


Firstly- I don't think you'd be in bad company if you were anti-christianity.
Secondly- scientifically, religion is irrational. I don't see how someone could factually object to that. Whether irrationality is bad or not...
The main thing I objected to was the idea that all religion is anti-rational, in some sort of sense of attacking rationality. That certainly isn't true :)

If I recall, you need at least 5 posts before you can link? But yeah, basically it's a protection from one-issue spam.

Robin S wrote:Demonstration is a form communication (see the Wikipedia article).


I hope you'll excuse me for subconsciously thinking of communication as an abstract thing rather than a concrete one. Too much spoken language :) You're right though, demonstration is a form of communication. I was reading "language" from that, effectively.

Insignificant Deification wrote:*Twitch* Please, explain why walking on tiles in a pattern is a meme. I've been over my side of it.


Have you ever noticed that people who are walking with you when you do this tend to copy the pattern?

That would be the sort of thing people are talking about when they say memes spread.
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Re: Memes

Postby mspickle » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:40 am UTC

Sorry to be a little off-topic here, but I am Christian and hence pro-Christianity, but I don't consider myself bad company, really. Well, I guess it depends on who you ask.

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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:55 am UTC

mspickle wrote:Sorry to be a little off-topic here, but I am Christian and hence pro-Christianity, but I don't consider myself bad company, really. Well, I guess it depends on who you ask.


Must resist urge to make music-related joke...
Must resist... 'til the day I die...

Hellfire.

So, back on topic: I wonder if it's possible to have a simplest-possible-meme. Like, a kind of meme that we can say no other meme is simpler (though perhaps as simple). We could use a concept like that as a baseline with which to establish measurements of memetic complexity, methinks.

So: Simplest concievable (redundancy!) meme go!
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Re: Memes

Postby 4=5 » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:02 pm UTC

simplest meme
"bugs=gross"

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Re: Memes

Postby Garm » Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:04 am UTC

But why are bugs gross? I think you have to look at the underlying assumptions behind that meme. I think most memes are fairly complex, they just appear to be very simple. Do most memes appear to be obvious?

This is an interesting conversation. I'm waiting to see if anyone has the answer for why things like LoLCat catch on.
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Re: Memes

Postby 4=5 » Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:20 am UTC

lol cats catches on because you get to show your cleverness in re-inturpriteing things like "that's what she said"

and the reasons behind the bug meme may be complex
Spoiler:
(actually not really (they are gross because they aren't easy to eat and they take your food))
the idea of bugs being gross isn't

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Re: Memes

Postby Maurog » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:40 am UTC

lolcats are a classical example of a meme. Memes propagate a bit like jokes, but with one major difference - when you tell an "old" joke everybody know, you get negative feedback, but when you display a well-known meme, you get positive feedback. Thus, it's a win-win: you either spread the meme to new people, converting them just like you were converted, or display it to your infected peers, getting positive feedback.

By removing the negative possibility, memes became much more aggressive than jokes and spread much faster. By definition, after you see one, you have a strong urge to pass it on, especially to some uninfected population. Jokes run out of juice, but memes just become stronger thanks to their double positive structure.
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Re: Memes

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:16 pm UTC

Hmm, I haven't seen anyone but my SO other doing that, but She does it to keep me from feeling like a freak.
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Re: Memes

Postby Robin S » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:50 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:when you tell an "old" joke everybody know, you get negative feedback, but when you display a well-known meme, you get positive feedback.
Not necessarily; old jokes are a subset of memes.
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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:20 am UTC

4=5 wrote:simplest meme
"bugs=gross"


I'd say the 'bugs' part is pretty simple - but how simple is the concept of something that is 'gross'?

Looking at the appropriate entries for the context, it seems that to be 'gross' is to be offensive, or disgusting. So what do those mean?

My point is, that statement may look simple, but the concepts underlying it seem surprisingly intricate. If someone doesn't know what it means for something to be 'gross', then the meme can't propagate - its' existence is dependent on its' underlying concepts.

So, that in mind, I'll try something I think is a bit simpler:

"Bugs are tiny things with lots of legs."

Note this isn't a factual statement. Nothing about taxonomy covers the category of "bugs", and the statement lumps together arachnids and insects anyway. This is defining a set of objects into a kind of slang term.
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Re: Memes

Postby Maurog » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:14 am UTC

I don't think it's a meme, if only because I don't feel the urge to pass it on. It's just a definition.
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Re: Memes

Postby FiddleMath » Mon Jan 28, 2008 7:13 am UTC

So: Simplest concievable (redundancy!) meme go!


Possibly, The Game. For those who haven't seen it:

Rule 1: You are playing The Game.
Rule 2: Whenever you think about The Game, you lose.
Rule 3: Loss must be announced.

For what it's worth, I just lost twenty dollars and my self respect. The Game is explicitly designed to be self-propagating. Enough people find this amusing that we actually follow the rules.

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Re: Memes

Postby Indon » Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:55 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:I don't think it's a meme, if only because I don't feel the urge to pass it on. It's just a definition.


It seems even a definition has to be able to propagate in some way in order to continue. Or else the next generation won't know what a bug is, and all associated memes which rely on the carriers knowing what a bug is will fail.

Though that brings up a good point - could there be a point of simplicity beyond which an idea can not be considered a meme anymore?
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