RE: virus: The Naked Meme

Richard Brodie (
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 07:03:05 -0800

Eva-Lise wrote:

>Received CoV
>wisdom has it that memes are 1.) transmitted between minds and 2.)
>within minds, on the model of viri or of genes.


> This model is imperfect
>in that it utilizes the conduit metaphor of communication.

Why? I prefer the Rube-Goldberg metaphor. Meme A in my mind influences
my behavior to write a book, which stimulates Lior to create meme B,
which influences his behavior to ask a question, which stimulates David
McF to create meme C, which influences his behavior to send out
clarifying e-mail, and so on until finally something stimulates you to
create the original meme A in your mind.

> In real life,
>that which is transmitted (code) is not the same thing as that which is
>active within the mind (ideas). One way out is the one I stated in my
>last post, which was that memes are ideas in individual minds and
>be transmitted directly. Another, which I had not formulated clearly
>until now, is that memes are in fact what is transmitted, the encoded
>instructions, whatever they may be, and that ideas within the mind are
>the equivalent of viruses, but more akin to the diseases engendered by
>viruses, which may produce different symptoms in different hosts and
>circumstances. :)

Yes, both of these perspectives work. Memes are replicators whose locus
is in the mind; viruses of the mind are replicators whose locus is in
the physical world.

> Alternatively, we can acknowledge memes as a metaphor
>linked dependently to the conduit metaphor, and not as a truth of the
>universe, or even a universally useful myth.

Of course.

Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?