Re: virus: A gorilla, a goat and an elaphant go into a bar...

Dave Pape (
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 19:51:20 GMT

At 23:06 17/03/97 -0800, Tim/John Moen wrote:

>Again, I tell someone about memes and the next thing I know their sending
>me a hundred questions and giving me a hundred good ideas and analogies
>that I'd love to take the credit for.

Top buzz, that one, isn't it? You drop a bunch of memes into a mind, and out
comes a combination of metamemes that failed to form in the balance of YOUR
memetic ecology, even though you reckon you spend more time than your friend
exercising the memes that just transmitted between the two of you.

Hmm. I love memespeak, it's just trips off yer tongue so lightly.

>Here's another one about
>meme-ecologies (maybe you can help me answer it):


R R E A A D D Y Y ! ! !
R R EEEE A A DDD Y ! ! !

>On Mon, 17 Mar 1997, John Moen <> wrote:

>> What I'm envisioning is a model that veers from the strict genetic
>> model, where memes can create "bodys" that can be very simple constructs
>> to the very complex. The difference, perhaps between an amoeba and a
>> gorilla. Both living organisms that infect their environments and try to
>> reproduce and thrive, but very different in their structure and
>> complexity.
>> So, now, imagine that this gorilla is not made up of many cells with the
>> same DNA working together, but a whole bucket full of different kinds of
>> cells (something like individual amoeba, but with the "will" to bind
>> together to form a greater entity) so that they all work together to
>> make this gorilla-like structure, but each with independant DNA.

Okay, I'm not sure what the memetic equivalent of DNA is, or whether there
IS one... but, remember that during the Cambrian explosion, when
multicellular life started to kick off in a big way, there were loads of
dead simple metacellulars that just looked like colonies (ecologies???) of
single cells. There's no clean barrier between colony-of-unicellulars and
individual metacellular, so ALL multicellular things are like (very tight,
organised) colonies of cells in a way. The "will" would be some selective
force, arising from complex, structured ideas representing an advantageous
way for the ideas' host to interact with its environment. And in fact the
gorilla would be made up of amoebas, rabbits, little gorillas, and miniature
woodland ecosystems, too.

>> OK - here's where I might start making sense:
>> Now, imagine if you will, that the individual meme that exists in one
>> person's head might be the equivilent of one of these symbiotic cells in
>> this gorilla-like structure. The gorilla-like structure would represent
>> another entity that has a joint will of its own, but is made up of these
>> independant cells that are working toward the objectives of the new
>> entity.

Cool! I got into memes via the metamind route, and the way I faded from one
concept-group to the other was through realising that many memetic ecologies
are hosted by /groups/ of people, with no one mind hosting all the memes in
that ecology. This is what companies, and division of mental labour in
general, are all about. Group memetic processing.

Listen, can we all start chanting "The Earth is conscious, oh look, here I
am with my oceans and my trees and stuff" please, to give the global
memecology a self-referrent narrative flow? Maybe then it'll attain sentience.

>> Thoughts do not have the same physical constrictions that genetics have
>> of the physical world. We have social rules that are very different from
>> physical ones. (As if the physical ones all apply to the physical stuff
>> anyway).

Agreed: memetics and genetics are both systems of evolving and therefore
ecologically related entities, but the parameters of the two systems are
different, so there's differences in the emergent functioning of those systems.

>This is an important point and I'm glad John makes it here.
>> I think thoughts have a very structural nature and very hierarchical,
>> but the hierarchy changes when you look from each different perspective.
>> That is to say, the gorilla-like structure of thoughts, from the other
>> side may look like a goat and may in fact be a goat. Oh, wait, no - it's
>> an elephant... and five blind guys went to feel up the elephant...and
>> the first one said "This beast is like a purse. I reached my hand right
>> inside, but could not find any keys."

Well, I certainly agree with the concept that certain groups of memes take
part in different meta-ecologies of memes- ie employees' knowledge of using
spreadsheets is a number of similar memetic ecologies, in various
minds/memospheres, which from one point of view look like "how to write a
spreadsheet" but from another point of view might look like "how to
manipulate the monthly sales data". Is this anywhere near the spirit of what
John was saying?


Dave Pape
Always bet on the guy with the spine.

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