Re: virus: A Rich Inherent Dance

Eric Boyd (
Sat, 02 Aug 1997 02:09:22 -0500

Tim Rhodes wrote:

> Often, in the case of a word or small string of words, it will resurface
> later, well after the conversation has moved to another topic or even
> several topics later. I suspect that the use of a meme-fragment in
> conversation highlights it in the mind of the listener and moves it into
> the list of words-at-hand that are chosen by the listener when they go to
> speak later in conversation. The words recently used are simply more
> readily at hand and are thus picked first over comprible, but less
> convienent and freshly selected terms.

Is it possible this is becuase of the limitations of our brains? That,
while English has 200,000+ words, our brains are only capable of 20,000
or so, and so we cycle through them, based on our recent exposure?

(quick: name the 20,000 words in your current vocabulary!!!)

(note that this meme is an 80 tim increase over a meme my dad gave me.
Apparently chickens, becuase of their small brains, are only capable of
recgnozing about 50 other chickens. So social groups of chicken are
limited to this number, even when far more chickens are available)

> An interesting aspect of this filter, as I am capable of employing it at
> least, is that, although I can note when I hear meme-fragment that /I/
> have used previously, I am unable to detect when I am parroting back a
> fragment that was used by the /other person/ first. Therefore, the best I
> can do in note its trail after it leaves me. I haven't found a way of
> getting past this particular bug yet.

Me, I usually know if the meme is "big enough". That is, once a meme
reaches about 10 or fifteen words, I can usually tell if it came from
somewhere else. (it's like, hmmm. I've seen this before... better check
my quotations file) But as to single words, Tim, you are right. My
vocabulary does change with time, and it's not something I'll ever be
able to control. Maybe not even something I'd want to control.