Re: virus: Rationality

Martz (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 11:18:24 +0000

On Sat, 1 Mar 1997, Alex Williams <> wrote:
>> Would you prefer looking at it as reproduction rather than transmisson?
>> So the meme has reproduced, but its offspring may have mutated.
>Reproduction is good /in concept/, but it doesn't capture the
>mechanism for myself well enough. We create signals from memes in
>protocols encoded by memes. Those signals travel. The signal is
>interpreted by protocol-memes and the interpreted/created memes are
>dumped into the memesphere of the recipient. As I see it, that's the
>process. Intermediately, there are no memes at all, just signal.

Is your objection here that even with reproduction there is some
movement of matter, even though it's just a single cell?

>Looking at it from the biological reproduction perspective removes
>consideration of the signal, and thus, the source of the mutation.
>Sort of like looking at biological organisms without knowing what DNA
>is; a step back.

But we *do* know what that DNA is. For biological reproduction, which is
in one sense the replication of a physical system (with an associated
margin for error), we have DNA; a compressed, encoded map of that
system. For memetic reproduction, the replication of an information
system, we have the signal. The margin for error is far greater as this
particular reproduction method hasn't had as much time to hone its
skills as DNA has. Equally we don't understand it as well because it's a
younger field of study with few practitioners. It may well be far more
complex than its biological equivalent anyway, as the encoding methods
used do seem to vary hugely from individual to individual. So it's not
so much a step back as a step behind. Aside from all that, imperfect as
it may be I find the biological metaphor useful (as someone mentioned
recently). Perhaps it's simply my own mental structures trying to map
something unknown onto something familiar the better to deal with it.


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