Re: virus: Will the real meme please stand up.

Tim Rhodes (
Thu, 7 Aug 1997 09:50:35 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 6 Aug 1997, Brett Lane Robertson wrote:

> 2. No, content doesn't get passed along with a meme.

I disagree. Strongly.

Content is as much a part of the package as anything else. In the Kurt
Vonnegut/Sunscreen example content was the _one_thing_ that did get passed
on unchanged. The viral shell, meme format, or whatever you wish to call
the mechanisms of replication, *adapted* to better transmit the content.
Different content in a different media would have required a different
adaptation to fit the niche.

(If, for instance, it was a talk about C++ or Windows 98, Bill Gates would
have been a better attribution than Kurt and much more successful *for
that content*)

Saying content is irrelevant is akin to saying the genetic code of a virus
is irrelevant. It isn't. If that were the case the common cold would be
as dangerous as AIDS (or vise-versa). Part of that code determines
*where* the virus attacks and, as we see in the case of AIDS, that can
make all the difference in the world.

The memes success is not a function of its content, but the content relates
to the niches the meme _can_be_ successful in.

-Prof. Tim

P.S. If your argument is that *nothing* is passed on by memes (including
the memes format) you'll have to make a stronger case for that. But
before this devolves into debate about transmission mediums versus
transmitted information (there's plenty of this in the archives already,
if you have a hunger for it, you might look there), remember that memes
are abstract concepts. When I write down 23+16 and you read it, did I
make 39 somethings exist somewhere?