Memetic Ripples


I recently did a 1min talk (well it turned into 90secs, but I wasn’t counting) on Memetics and a quick snap shot of what it is in theory. I didn’t do the best of jobs in the short while I had but its something I’m really interested in…

In the short… from wikipedia

Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from the popularization of Richard Dawkins‘ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Proponents describe memetics as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer.

The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in one or more individual minds, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen—when adopting the intentional stance—as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host. As with genetics, particularly under a Dawkinsian interpretation, a meme’s success may be due to its contribution to the effectiveness of its host.

Its a general theory and honestly a really interesting one to think about when thinking about influence, the attention economy, globalisation and our global network. Also really fun to think and understand the  perfect conditions. Who makes for a good host, who holds back the meme spread and why? Is there a link between openess and sharing of memes/ideas/thoughts?

I have Dave, Miles and a few others for putting a name to the thing I was always fascinated with. Sarah studied disease outbreaks for the health protection agency (HPA) and remember the errly similar process of counting numbers as they grow massive very quickly. Network effects slightly excites and marvel me… Maybe a job in advertising awaits?

Anyway, I like systems and things which foster sharing. This is why I like Schemier and as I only recently discovered Google ripples. This I must have missed somewhere on my travels.

Fascinating how certain ideas spread eh?

Maybe you too, might be interested in Memetic theory?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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