virus: Checksums

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 15:39:56 -0400 (EDT)

>From: "Wright, James 7929" <>
>Date: Tue, 22 Apr 97 09:25:00 EDT

>In information communications, a checksum is a number transmitted along
>with the packet of data which allows verification of the data after the
>process of transmission. Should the result of a numeric computation
>performed on both the data and the checksum not result in a defined
>figure, the receiver sends back a "Message not received correctly" signal
>back to the sender, and the sender re-sends that packet of data again.
>Could we use something similar to ensure that memes transmit more
>faithfully and mutate slower? I'd be really annoyed if the meme I sent
>was "I need a wrench" and the meme my six-year-old received was "I need a
>drench", and he turned a garden hose on me according to his
>understanding! Any suggestions?

James, that's fucking brilliant.

It reminds me of this game which is used to instruct teachers, which I
heard about from a FOAF...can anyone remember who originated this
game, or one like it? Anyway, the point is that the game arrives at exactly
the same conclusion from a completely different angle. Here I see an excellent
way to reintegrate ideas.


1) Two players, the Teacher and the Student sit back to back. Both
must look straight ahead for the remainder of the game and may
communicate only by speaking to one another.

2) The Teacher and the Student are each given 12 (or so) matchsticks
and the teacher is given a few minutes to assemble a 2 dimensional figure
on the floor in front of them using at least half of them.

3) Once the Teacher has completed the Model the teacher must, only
by speaking and listening, get the Student to recreate the same Model.

If you have a chance, try it. I'll give away the secrets.

-The teacher should tell the student what the Model will look like when
it is completed. For instance: "it's a square" or "it's a cross" or "it's a
2D representation of a box, and your going to have to lay some sticks on
top of others to make it."

-The teacher needs to check up with the student periodically. "What does
it look like now?" "You should have a square." etc.

-The Student has to be proactive, asking questions and keeping the teacher
updated as to progress. The two need to figure out the language they have
in common. This is much more difficult if only one member of the team
is speaking.

The funny thing is, most Teachers attack the game very linearly:
"Take one matchstick and place it vertically with the tip up"

And most Students are very passive:

Which demonstrates that, no matter how advanced we might be, we still
in our "instincts" don't know how to teach, or to learn.

Now all this was someone elses idea, but my contribution is as follows:


Replace the matchstick with colored legos, this increases the complexity
of the problem enormously by requiring the teacher and student to think
in 3D and to settle on a terminology describing each piece ("The Red piece
with four pips by 2 pips shall be designated 'R-4-2'") or to try a "wholistic
approach ("make a red cube").

LEGO TEACHER is a repeat of the same game using different pieces.

once people get pretty good at this they graduate to

HETEROGENEOUS VARIABLE TEACHER in which student and teacher
don't necessarily get the same collection of pieces to begin with. Here
you are stuck with a dillema which is unresolvable. Should the teacher
remove pieces that the student doesn't have...or can the student
something to serve as the "missing link" from other pieces hanging
around. This introduces the ambiguity inherent in the concept of
"reproduction". What is the "essence" of the teacher's lego model?
Is it the sequence of pieces, or the overall look of the object, or
something else?

NEGOTIATION is the game in which both players build a model and then
are required to make their models match. Who is the teacher? Who
is the student? No coaching is allowed. A variant on this game is
to tell each player they will play the role of teacher until they begin
and let them argue for a moment before telling then (as the moderator)
that the rules have changed. This really evokes people's dominance
memes "I'm supposed to be the teacher".

EVOLUTION I haven't ever carried out. This would require a psych
department resources. Essentially this is an iterated game of
teacher in which each student becomes a teacher for the next. It is
vital that none of the participants be allowed to view any of the
models save their own until after they are done teaching. This
is similar to the "telephone" game except that when it's all over
you have a physical record of each iteration in lego's My vision is
to have a display in which a central model in presented and
streams of models, each the product of an individual game from
begining from this central model move, in sequence, away from
it in all directions. That would be an awsome visual image of

Um, so in retrospect, this is only tangentially related to checksums.
I don't know what the answer is. But these games might provide a
process to experiment with.


Reed Konsler