virus: respectable

Reed Konsler (
Thu, 7 Aug 1997 10:27:48 -0400 (EDT)

>Date: Wed, 06 Aug 1997 16:25:12 +0000
>Wade Wrote:
>Once this thing called a meme is pinned down (and it ain't yet, folks,
>regardless of who's lexicon is being waved about....) then memetics may
>indeed open like an umbrella over the aesthetic and social disciplines,
>not to mention philosophy, that bastard child of discourse.
>I agree with you for the most part, but I feel there are a few other
>things that set memetics apart from aesthetics and philology. (and I'll
>add cultural anthropology and literary criticism to the list.)
>1. Memetics doesn't concern itself with a "correct" methodology. There
>will never be a memetic text outlining the rules of Tragedy. Nor does it
>consider any one text more authentic than another. Like cultural
>antropology it views things as relative and like literary criticism it
>says "but that's just like so-and-so" or "you only believe that because
>someone told you that". Only instead of saying it with derision, it says
>it matter-of-factly.
>2. Ideas are similar to what went before and that we learn what we do
>from our media. That simple statement is at the core of many
>disciplines. John Campbell and Marshall McLuhan were champions of that
>statement. However, memetics gives us that "one" step further back to
>see the lineage of ideas and the continuity of their transmission.
>I proposed a while ago that there *is* a physical method for measuring
>the spread of a meme. Just follow the money. I'm trying to train myself
>right now to see memes as dollar signs. Dollar-shaped memes seem to
>spread really quickly but have a limited shelf- life.

Ouch! Stephen, that was brilliant! Here's a little of Bloom I think
supports and extends your conclusion:

Excerpted From "12 billion years of paleopsychology--an outline"
Howard Bloom


[In media res]

Conversely, discoverers which encounter a cornucopia of edibles
have their comparator mechanisms tweaked in the opposite direction.
They disperse an attractant which makes them the star of the party.

4) Now the fourth principle of the complex adaptive system
enters the petri dish: the resource shifters. Those stranded in the
desert are deprived of nutrients--which their location cannot provide--of
companionship, and most important from the point of view of the
group brain, robbed of what might best be termed popularity.
Meanwhile, those who find an overflowing buffet eat their fill and
command the attention and protection of a gathering crowd. They are
transformed into leaders, guiding the group mind. "To him who hath
it shall be given; from he who hath not even what he hath shall be
taken away."

Should things prove truly grim, however, and even the most
strenuous searchers confirm that food is nowhere within reach, another
diversity generator, the most startling of them all, may rouse to meet
the challenge. It is that mechanism which James Shapiro calls the
"genetic engineer." Let us allow Ben-Jacob to repeat something we've
already touched upon: "the cell carries a complete set of tools for
genetic self-reconstruction: plasmids, phages, transposons and too many
others to mention...the same tools, in fact, used in the lab today for
genetic engineering." A microscopic research and development
squadron goes to work recrafting its own genetic string.

Which raises a question: does the genomic skunkworks merely trot out
pre-fabricated parts which have worked in the past? Or is it capable
of true innovation?

This is when Ben-Jacob devised his tests of bacterial ingenuity, putting
the poor creatures into nightmare environments whose like they'd
never encountered before. If all the microbial team could do was
recycle ancient programs, it would be finished. But that is not what
happened. Through data pooling, experimentation, and tests of novel
strategies, the bacteria managed to refashion themselves in radically
new ways. This was not traditional random mutation at work. This
was driven, inspired conception.

[and so on...]



Reed Konsler