Re: virus: E-Mail Thought Contaigion

Tim Rhodes (
Wed, 3 Dec 1997 11:05:57 -0800 (PST)

Hi Kvan! Welcome into the light!

On Tue, 2 Dec 1997, Casper K. Clausen wrote:

> However, I believe this piece serves a purpose somewhat different from the
> original intention of contagion via email. For the contagion to be
> succesful, I propose that it merely seeks to explain memetics (and
> itself), without offering any critiques of established memes. This will
> allow it to spread further and faster, thus greatly incrasing the number
> of vectors for memetics (at, admittedly, a very basic level).

Exactly. Also, brevity is important. Jake, although I loved the idea, I
found myself skimming after a while. But I do that with just about every
e-mail that goes on for more than three pages. We'll need to keep it
fairly short so it can be read, digested, and forwarded before we wear out
our welcome.

> Once this contagion is well under way, and also documented to a certain
> degree, we might consider sending out something along the lines of your
> piece, Jake.

Documentation is an interesting aspect. Do we include a line which tells
the reader to CC: it to us along with whoever else they send it to?

I passed my copy of _VotM_ on to a friend who was reading it at work (he's
a teacher) and another teacher commented that he had read it a few weeks
earlier, and that it was passed on by friend as well. (This is probably the
real reason your sales are down, Richard!) But this second copy had an
interesting twist. The first owner has written her name inside the cover
along with a brief message to the person she was giving it to for them to
hand it on as well, adding their name to the list as they handed it off.
By the time this copy reached my friends friend (staring to sound like an
urban legend isn't it?) the book had been to Australia, Japan, Guam,
Hawaii and back to the States going through over 30 hands in the process.

Could we use a device like that in the letter?

Ask them to add their name to the bottom of the list and pass it on? It
would illustrate how far the little virus had traveled and then we would
only have to have every tenth or hundredth person send us a copy, as well.

-Prof. Tim