Re: virus: What makes memes compete?

Tim Rhodes (
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 22:12:07 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 9 Apr 1997, Dave Pape wrote:

> What makes ideas compete with each other? Is it another of these crazy
> post-modern "all things are defined by their context" sort of thing,
> whereby memes A and B "disagree" because their associated memes, or
> their sub-memes, disagree? But that's only pushing the problem back.
> Looking for an ecological analogy...
> Foxes eating rabbits? But for any pair of fox and rabbit there may be
> situations in which the fox will eat the rabbit and situations in which
> it won't.

I don't think fox-and-rabbit is a good analogy. They're not competing.
The fox isn't trying to get the rabbit's share of the carrots, after all.
They occupy different niches.

Maybe a fox and an eagle is better. The both want to use the limited
resource (eat the rabbit), but each has a different way of approaching the
problem and subsequent advantages and disadvantages. In a thick forest
the fox has the advantage. In an open field the eagle's surprise attack
is better suited. Which one wins out and gets a rabbit dinner depends on
both the ecology they're in and the shear luck. Who crosses the rabbits
path and when and where.

I can break the analogy back down into memes if you like, but I think you
see where I'm going with it.

-Prof. Tim