Re: virus: Replication of Memes

Steve Upstill (upstill@sam)
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 13:10:40 -0700

On Aug 12, 11:58am, Richard Brodie wrote:
> Subject: RE: virus: Replication of Memes
> Steve Upstill wrote:
> >My larger point was in questioning what seemed to me an over-emphasis
> >on memes motivating their carriers to modify their behavior in order
> >to pass on the meme. I think that what's more important is that the
> >memes "fit in the channel".
> But to a large degree human behavior determines those channels. And
> human behavior is controlled to a large degree by memes.
> Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600

In retrospect I don't think this is such an important point. In the first
few chapters of the book, there seemed to be undue importance attached to
the idea of a meme modifying the behavior of a host to promote its spread.
I <don't> think this is an essential behavior of memes (though it does help
in analogizing with biological virae). For example, innumerable memes reach
us through the media, and they have enormous effects even if they <never>
go beyond the millions of people they effect at first encounter.

Certainly human behavior is primarily determined by memes, but just because
some memes are good at it, it doesn't follow that the ability of a meme to
control the behavior of transmission is important. I would even make a simple
bandwidth argument that people carry around way too many memes to effectively
transmit them all.

But again, this argument is not really germane to the importance of memes in
controlling behavior and getting around. It's only the transmission medium
I'm questioning, not their overall importance.

Steve Upstill