Re: virus: Rationality

Martz (
Sun, 2 Mar 1997 20:09:00 +0000

On Sun, 2 Mar 1997, Alex Williams <> wrote:

>My point was that to discuss the propogation of communication without
>consideration that there is an `in between,' that there is a signal
>that is created from memes on one side and interpreted (rather
>loosely) by protocol-memes on the other side, to simply talk about the
>process as `meme X is transmitted to Y' loses a /lot/ of the
>understanding of How Things Cock Up. Its acceptible in a purely
>theoretical discussion, but not from an engineering perspective.

We can do both. The engineering part of our makeup can pursue the
engineering problems and the theorist part can do what he's into. Both
need to check back with each other every so often to monitor progress
and assimilate but neither will get very far if they're constantly
trying to explain themselves.

>My model is the Meme As Agent; memes, in my mind, are something like
>semi-autonomous organisms existing within the compubiotic soup of the
>memesphere. Memetic /breeding/, in the organic/reproductive sense,
>occurs only within the soup. Part of enculturization is dedicated to
>causing, through various environmental factors/inputs and some shared
>code all memeagents share due to millions of years of development,
>meme structures of cooperative agents to arise which contain
>`bootstrapping protocol code,' enough of language and human
>gesture/body language understanding to give a gritty, unclear but
>connected signal interpretation core structure of memes. These agents
>watch the shared i/o of the memesphere and spawn new agents whenever
>they see patterns in the input that loosely match patterns in the
>input stream. These new agents are then /immediately/ subjected to
>various combinations of other memes attempting to combine with or
>attack them. From time to time enough agents, or one very pushy one,
>will get the protocol handling agents to emit i/o through the port and
>affect the outside world.

This is good. Although even this can be broken down to the three steps
(oh there...are three...steps to heaven..wah,wah,wah) of encode,
transmit (I know you hate that word but I can't think of a better one),

>In the above model, all things in the mind are agents except
>`awarenesses,' or direct input from the senses (which may,
>nevertheless, immediately spawn an agent, 'Damn, this iron is hot!'
>but only after the finger is already away). The pseudo-biological
>aspects of memes only occur between meme and meme in the same
>memesphere; between memespheres, there is no adjoining, so it feels
>unnatural to me to use biological terminology to describe the

You seem to be looking for a physical adjoining, which in biological
terms is fair enough because biology deals with physical things.
Memetics deals with information so perhaps we should look for a more
ethereal adjoining. A place where pieces of information bump up against
each other.

>I suppose I really feel `every man is an island,' and that we're all
>lobbing badly worded messages in fragile bottles into the sea, hoping
>our knowledge of a language we just learned, the fragility of the
>paper, and the motion of nearby currents will take the message to the
>people we want and that they'll be lucky enough to read it as we
>intended. Perhaps a bit depressing, but I read Lovecraft as a
>child. :)

I agree with you totally, but could not have expressed it so eloquently.
I don't see that it necessitates discarding the biological model.


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