Re: virus: What makes memes compete?

Dave Pape (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 21:25:26 +0100 (BST)

The noise a Professor Tim makes sounds like this:

>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.

And when a Professor Tim makes that noise, a Dave Pape will make a noise
like THIS:

Well I think I do... it's that crafty old "memes depend on their context,
and any two instances of a meme will differ somewhat, but what the heck
that's what replication with mutation's all about isn't it" yarn. I agree
with the foxes v rabbits thing being a shite analogy- that's why I started
flailing in a cess of my own chulp. You observed from a higher thing.

On a still higher plane stood Lee Crocker. He made this noise:

>The /only/ case in which two organisms compete for /exactly/ the
>same resources over their lifetimes is two animals of the same
>species and the same sex in the same area, and even then there may
>be complications like different abilities.

And while I differ about the word "exactly", I reckon he's near the mark.
But then, perhaps ALL of these analogies hold somewhat, for pairs of
memes/ideas with more or less in common. Oh but bollocks! This messes me up

Because the general effect seems to be, the closer the genotype, the more
competition between (nod to Lee) the organisms that are specified by it.
Now, I'm sure that individual animals with IDENTICAL genomes wouldn't
contain a magic switch that STOPPED them from competing... so what, do
identical memes compete with each other?

Or, do we have to start looking at people as hosting POPULATIONS of memes,
and look at POPULATION scale interactions of memes for our biological
analogies? This'd mesh with the concept of most memes being, in fact,
ecologies of other ideas.

So here's another question: How many copies of a kind of meme do you host?
EG, I have memes like:

"Don't like dogs"
"Look at that crappy dog"
"Dogs piss me off"
"Dogs shit all over the fcken pavement"

Presumably these all weigh in to some internal arguments en masse? Do they?
But are in competition for direct expression when it comes to me actually
SAYING something negative about dogs? Uh? Could I be any more freeform, maybe?

This is an example of me in post-William-Calvin mode.

Dave Pape
Always bet on the guy with the spine.

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