Re: virus: 200 words for snow

Tim Rhodes (
Wed, 4 Jun 1997 11:57:31 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 4 Jun 1997, Grant Callaghan wrote:

> On Wed, 4 Jun 1997, Reed Konsler wrote:
> > I was questioning why this meme, specifically, persists
> > despite lack of support...what "good memes" does it contain, what
> > weaknesses does it specifically tack advantage of? Is is random? I think
> > not, and in understanding it's nature we might reveal our blindness and
> > discover a host of "fellow-travellers" taking advantage of the same
> > process.
> >
> > How did it get (and continue to get) past fact-checking discriminators?
> If it was first used in a newspaper article, there probably weren't any.

Or it /seems/ self-evident, fits so nicely into our network of memes why
would anyone question it? Who would check to see if there ever *was* an
article? (That, by the way, is the beauty of spreading memes on the Net.
99 out of 100 people never check sources.)

> > Why did other people remember it, in the hurricane of forgotten memes?
> For the same reason you remember one girl's face out of the thousands
> you see every day. When things look good to us, we remember them.

Ever ask yourself why this girl looks good to you and that one doesn't?
It's tell you a lot about yourself.

> > How did it evolve?
> The same way that all memes evolve, through usage in different
> situations.

Why is it 600 names for snow now? In the first use it was 23.

> > Why do so many people use it to make so many different points?
> Because it seems to fit the point they are tyring to make.

This is a better answer to the "Why did people remember it?" question than
it is to this one.

> > How does the revelation of it's lack of foundation change the meaning?
> It has very little to do with it. It's the idea that is contagious.

Philosophers have over 400 words for "idea", did you know that? (But only
one for "irony".)

> > What will you think the next time you read something using
> > "400 words for snow" as an example?
> The same thing I though when I just saw you use it. It is serving the
> purpose for which you are using it. You are using it to make a different
> point, but you are using it and have just propagated it to hundreds or
> thousands of other minds on the Internet.

Really? I thought Reed had successfully propigated the "If the
400-words-for-snow thing isn't true how many of my insights are based on
rumor" meme. I must not be paying attention.

-Prof. Tim