RE: virus: banner ad prototype

Lena Rotenberg (
Wed, 31 Dec 1997 16:41:17 -0500

Hello --

While conducting a search on Alain Aspect two days ago I happened on a
posting by David McFadzean and, intrigued by his "memetic engineer"
signature, went to his website and found you guys. I have not had the time
to browse the archives of this list, and apologize if what I mention below
has already been discussed ad nauseam.

What I saw were dancing biohazard symbols and script switching between "We
know what you want" and <>; the latter moved. Black and

If I hadn't known beforehand what this group is about,
<> would not have appealed to me at
all; instead, it would have caused a very negative impression Actually, I
probably wouldn't even have clicked on a URL with the words "virus",
"lucifer", and "infect" to begin with. I'm even somewhat wary of clicking
on sites with "com" <g>....

Connotations of the URL in my mind: computer virus; infection; satanism

Reaction upon seeing the page: 1) how the heck can anybody affirm they
know what I want? 2) I don't want anything to do with biohazards; 3) this
reminds me of scientology BS (finally looked into it yesterday!), when they
affirm that unless I adopt their philosophy we will blow ourselves up with
H bombs; 4) these people think in terms of black and white; 5) these people
are nuts and I want out of here.

Why are we designing memes that give the opposite message to the one we
want to promote? Why not appeal to some key positive ideas instead --
rationality as a means to improve the human condition; the potential of
memetics in attaining such results; the potential of uniting like-minded
people over the Internet in order to act?

No offense to Richard Brodie -- I enjoyed his book, which I see as
cautionary introduction to memetics for the totally uninitiated. No
offense to David either -- I think that what he's doing is wonderful. But,
I wonder if using "virus" as a name for what we're doing isn't like
shooting our own feet. Too much confusion with computer viruses and,
considering that our main venue is the internet, that's not good. "Virus"
also connotes something destructive which is usually not engineered to
improve anyone's lot: a virus is something that one inadevertently gets
infected with, suffers from, and can even die from.

As for "lucifer", a non-theistic approach to religion should not risk being
even remotely confused with satanism.

Why not "meme" instead of "virus", which would attract people who, like
myself, are intrigued by their positive potential? I think that the spooky
attracts the spooky. If we design rational, it will attract the rational.

OK, y'all, please feel free to kick the newbie's butt now.

Have a great 98,

Lena Rotenberg