Author Topic: Anatomy of a Meme  (Read 23441 times)

Captain Utopia

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #60 on: August 03, 2009, 05:00:19 am »
We've been talking a bit about memetics and the properties of memes. So from what I know of memetics, here are some concepts which may make it easier to talk about this stuff. (The terminology I use is from Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin, in which he's talking about memes in terms of marketing. He calls a successful meme an Ideavirus.)

Velocity - a measure of how fast an idea spreads from one party to another

Hive - a network of people who exchange information. Information travels very easily within a hive, especially when regard each other as credible sources. PD.com is a hive. A class of third graders is a hive. Friends who talk about HP Lovecraft are a sort of hive.

Sneeze - a sneeze is a transmission of a meme between two people. If I see a cool commercial, and then I ask my friend if he's seen that commercial, that counts as a sneeze. Basically any time you mention a product, you are sneezing that meme.

Smoothness - how easy it is for someone to sneeze the meme. Sports trivia is very smooth in regards to sports fans. Really boring or complicated topics are not smooth.

Another factor influencing smoothness is whether or not the meme presents a risk or reward to the sneezer. For example, the iPhone is considered cool. You might seem cooler for knowing about the iPhone or mentioning your friend that has one. If you're attending NAMBLA meetings you'd probably want to keep a lid on that. So NAMBLA membership isn't very smooth.

Promiscuity - One's likelihood to spread a meme. Really promiscuous people sneeze a lot. Marketing teams twist their brains in knots trying to figure out how to get the cool guys and the hot girls to start using their products. Trendsetters and people of authority tend to be very promiscuous.
Ooh - this thread started off so well! It makes perfect sense that people in marketing would be the ones with the greatest motivation to refine this into an applied science, I just never thought about it. Fuckers. Gobbling up every last electron to feed their flashing neon, cutting down every last tree for their billboards, targeting every last mind for the mindless will of the machine - if memetics could not be used to destroy this industry and the soulless fuckers that suck from its crackwhore teat, then I'd just give in and pucker up too.

Maybe I've been reading too many rants in the last few weeks, but I'm starting to feel actual... anger.. for the first time in years.

I will seriously consider kicking a motherfucker in the shins.

The Book of Atem (which I have a signed pre-publish manuscript of ;-) ) appears to me as a combination between the creation of a "memetic entity" and a dissertation on memetic entities and how to create them. In Phil's system, memetic entities are a collection of memes that have created a self-perpetuating system. So while "Homosexuality is a sin"/"You go to hell, you go to hell and you DIE!" might be memes, Christianity as a whole exists as a memetic entity. "Buy Low, Sell High" is a meme, but Capitalism is a memetic entity.

Atem, the memetic entity intorduced in the book is sort of a meta-memetic entity. Atem was created, designed and released as a memetic entity to help people explore the concepts of memetic entities.
From your description of that book, I don't see a two-layer system of memes and memetic-entities as being that useful. Isn't it just switching the definition of the "host" from the individual to the community? And what then of the set which contains both Discordians and Pagans? If we can reliably predict some of the outcomes and arguments as the memetic-entities collide, then why are we elevating those memes to a higher level of conceptual existence?

I tend to conceptualise memes as two or more 'ideas' which when 'attention' is given to them within a certain period of time, reliably stimulate the recollection of one or more subsequent 'ideas', at a neurological/interpersonal/cultural level. Where an 'idea' can be anything in scope from an orange, to all things orange, to anything related to furniture, to a particular religion, to an entire planet of different religions or any meme you choose. A stream of consciousness may contain rocks, pebbles and sand - our power of abstraction has no need to differentiate at a low level.

Precisely. In Phil's system, memetic entities must be fluid, otherwise they're not entities.

If I create a memetic entity called Finbop and define as having a set of properties, then I have really created a 'potential' entity. When Finbop is given attention by your consciousness (C^tlu) then it becomes (Finbop*C^tlu), if instead it contact with TGGR then it would be (Finbop*C^tggr). If you communicate the entity to Prater Festwo then it would become ((Finbop*C^tlu)*C^pf).

If Festwo then talks to TGGR about it, it becomes (((Finbop*C^tlu)*(Finbop*C^tggr))*C^pf) in Festwo's head... in TGGR's head it might look like: ((Finbop*C^tgger)*((Finbop*C^tlu)*C^pf))
Urgh. Did there end up being any way to translate this back into something tangible? It seems like needless torture.

Cramulus

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #61 on: August 03, 2009, 01:49:26 pm »
Ooh - this thread started off so well! It makes perfect sense that people in marketing would be the ones with the greatest motivation to refine this into an applied science, I just never thought about it. Fuckers. Gobbling up every last electron to feed their flashing neon, cutting down every last tree for their billboards, targeting every last mind for the mindless will of the machine - if memetics could not be used to destroy this industry and the soulless fuckers that suck from its crackwhore teat, then I'd just give in and pucker up too.

Maybe I've been reading too many rants in the last few weeks, but I'm starting to feel actual... anger.. for the first time in years.

I will seriously consider kicking a motherfucker in the shins.

the thing to remember about those evil marketing people
is that they are us
in a way - applied memetics is a way to effectively use ideas

the market forces which make marketing work
arise from human choice - it's not like marketing and commercialism live in this illuminatti realm above culture, like evil puppeteers. They're an organic part of us.  The process works because people like what they do.

<Edit to add: if effectively crafting and positioning ideas is manipulative or evil, so is every publication we've ever created.>

So I feel that fighting against commercialism is, in some ways, a lost cause. It's presumptuous to assume that you know what the people should have any better than they know. Sadly, they chose commercialism.

The study of memetics allows us to see these things for what they are. It makes us sensitive to the fact that microsoft is trying to make their search engine Bing popular by inserting it into language as a cool sounding verb. (tangent - Personally I think this is a good cause if only because the word "to google" meaning "to search" is fucking weak. If it means "to search using google", that's fine, but sometimes people say dumb things like, "google it on ebay", and that represents corporate language creep, like saying Kleenex instead of Tissue)
_________________________________________________ _______________________

I've been pondering this for the last few weeks:

Okay, we can study memetics. We can get better at creating ideas which will "survive" in the memetic ecosystem...

But to what end? Our motivation for doing so exists within a tangled memetic network. What memes have made "study memetics" a meme? What's the ultimate thing that I want to do with these idea-powers? Is it a prank? A good cause? A profit engine? A mindfuck?


The art of memetics says that you need to go into the long dark teatime of the soul and contemplate this. But before you do that, you need to learn how to separate all the other memes in your brain, so that when you arrive at a conclusion about what you should be doing with your miserable life, you don't end up saying "Making Money". Because yo, making money is great, but money is a means, not an end.

I've been reading crowley like crazy because I suspect this process is what he's talking about when he refers to True Will.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2009, 02:05:43 pm by Cramulus »

Telarus

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #62 on: August 03, 2009, 02:13:50 pm »
Ooh, good insight there at the end, Cram.
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Captain Utopia

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #63 on: August 03, 2009, 03:22:31 pm »
It's not the crafting and positioning of ideas which I consider an evil, but the mindless consumption of all available resources. Like the memes which uphold the principle that a glossy magazine should be at least 50% adverts, or that it's fine that cheap electricity should be wasted on such low-return non-targeted adverts such as tampax for men. This is a much bigger topic than I want to get into right now - but briefly consider how Google Adwords targets particular demographics, is less obtrusive than the old-style web adverts, and gets a higher return for its clients. I've been idly planting memes on slashdot for a few years now showing that the same concepts (less obstrusive, more targetted) could be done for tv shows, movies, music, and virtually all media which requires funding. Effectiveness does not seem to be an issue, but the vested interests of the old media players is - e.g. digital advertising rates are stupendously undervalued - when that changes the old business models of print and network conglomerates will rapidly become obsolete/novelties. I have a few projects on the boil which may speed this process up, but I think it's largely inevitable - I might just be one out of countless ants nibbling on the branch, but this motherfucker is coming down.

This isn't about presuming to know what people want, it's about the application of algorithms to enable them to connect to _whatever_ it is they want more efficiently, with fewer worthless parasites in the way.


I've been pondering this for the last few weeks:

Okay, we can study memetics. We can get better at creating ideas which will "survive" in the memetic ecosystem...

But to what end? Our motivation for doing so exists within a tangled memetic network. What memes have made "study memetics" a meme? What's the ultimate thing that I want to do with these idea-powers? Is it a prank? A good cause? A profit engine? A mindfuck?


The art of memetics says that you need to go into the long dark teatime of the soul and contemplate this. But before you do that, you need to learn how to separate all the other memes in your brain, so that when you arrive at a conclusion about what you should be doing with your miserable life, you don't end up saying "Making Money". Because yo, making money is great, but money is a means, not an end.

I've been reading crowley like crazy because I suspect this process is what he's talking about when he refers to True Will.
I know this makes certain people angry, because hey, if we were not so biologically attached to the concept of self and free will then we wouldn't have got this far, but my personal interpretation of True Will is that it's an illusion. Aligning your concept of Will to the skillset your current memeset has granted you is likely to make you more happy and effective at what you do, whether that's being a painter or an asshole or an asshole painter or anything.

Modifying your memeset to generate new skills allows you to re-examine your concept of True Will as a meta-meme once those changes start taking root. There are choices at every step - do I change my memes, or refine my Will? But subscribing to the idea that you can live a (fill in blank) life by discovering True Will and making that your God, seems likely only to turn you into a caricature.

Untangling and separating memes is vital, because otherwise you can't recognise deceptions, circular reasoning and a meme attack coming your way. But personally I try to keep it simple - emergence rewards survival intelligence. On one hand, our species will not survive very long unless the concept of memetics hits critical mass in popular culture. On the other hand, I could not give a damn about that, and I study memetics so that I can grasp my right to Slack in the here and now. On the third hand, the more people who just goof off on The Joy of Slack, the more likely we are to wonder exactly why it is that we continue to choose to be part of a civilisation endlessly, detrimentally, grinding to the 9-5 commute.

In the end, it's about choosing to be on the winning team.

Telarus

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #64 on: August 03, 2009, 03:51:21 pm »
Just a point on Crowley's term, True Will. He was pointing directly to the fact that to really excel at something you need to do it every day. Boiling down the essence of your life's obsession into a statement of intent is good and all. All his staging and theatrical language was to get the candidate to give that up to him so he could sell it back to them. Anything above that is neo-Thelemite fappery.

It's a great cult-building meme (good replication method attached to good jargon), and when Aleister cam up with the technique and seeded it to himself he built that into it (his obsession was the Tarot Major Arcana Guru process, i.e. he identified a key memetic social focus point in society), so he did things like pranayama, invocation, gematria, kaballah, etc every day (along with what we would now call NLP and con-man magickwhaterver number that was).
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Cramulus

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #65 on: August 04, 2009, 03:42:18 am »
oh Dread Shinobi Ninjabob, how I adore your brain.

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #66 on: August 04, 2009, 06:02:53 am »
 :horrormirth::1fap:
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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #67 on: August 04, 2009, 09:04:33 pm »
I've been pondering this for the last few weeks:

Okay, we can study memetics. We can get better at creating ideas which will "survive" in the memetic ecosystem...

But to what end? Our motivation for doing so exists within a tangled memetic network. What memes have made "study memetics" a meme? What's the ultimate thing that I want to do with these idea-powers? Is it a prank? A good cause? A profit engine? A mindfuck?


The art of memetics says that you need to go into the long dark teatime of the soul and contemplate this. But before you do that, you need to learn how to separate all the other memes in your brain, so that when you arrive at a conclusion about what you should be doing with your miserable life, you don't end up saying "Making Money". Because yo, making money is great, but money is a means, not an end.

cram, relax :)

you remember what you posted before in the thread, about people copying your fire drill without you starting it? how it tickled you pink?

not all memetics is about making money.

IMO, with discordianism,

discordian memetics is other things. it's about having fun, about being tickled pink because your RIP LOLCAT pic is all over the net these days. did we make any money of it? hell no! is it awesome? HELL YES!
second thing, which is more important depending on what kind of discordian you are, is memetics to spread certain ideas, ideals and to make people think.
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Cramulus

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #68 on: August 04, 2009, 09:26:38 pm »
heh, speaking of that lolcat, I was telling that story to a bunch of people at a convention this weekend and they busted a nut laughing. They were familliar with the image but had no idea it was disinformation experiment. Not that they got all weepy over the Cheeseburger Cat kicking the bucket or anything, but at least they noticed.


but anyway - I know I'm always talking about how "Pranks don't need a good cause" and "you can't lose when you prank for fun", but if we limit ourselves to only pure-fun projects, it seems like we're wasting our studies.

What makes me bring it up is that I've been sniffing around for a new career. To make a decision on that level, I need to figure out exactly what I want. And that's turning out to be quite confusing and contradictory.

Like writing or graphic design, the study of memetics is just a tool. It's a means to an end. But the end we're individually reaching for exists within a memetic framework too! I think it's an important part of the study. That's why the AoM takes the reader into the chapel perilous. Ed and Wes didn't want to arm their readers with memetic weapons and then turn them loose on the world - they'd just end up serving someone else's memes.

Like how this Discordia meme seems to have taken control over a significant portion of my waking life. It's not a bad thing, I think. But it's important to be able to recognize it and hold it at arms length if necessary. And that means even treating the "fun" meme with a degree of reserve.

Captain Utopia

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #69 on: August 04, 2009, 09:38:36 pm »
but anyway - I know I'm always talking about how "Pranks don't need a good cause" and "you can't lose when you prank for fun", but if we limit ourselves to only pure-fun projects, it seems like we're wasting our studies.
THIS.

I'm dimly aware of my Aneristic Delusion, but I'm still optimistic enough to believe that it's not _all_ folly.

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #70 on: August 10, 2009, 11:42:06 pm »
Then why don't we make a top 5 list of discordian ideals, give them a modern package and send them out.

Top 5 discordian memes:
1. Think for yourself, Schmuck.
2. ???
3. ???
4. ???
5. ???


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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #71 on: August 10, 2009, 11:50:02 pm »
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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #72 on: August 10, 2009, 11:53:00 pm »
I was thinking more about figuring out the current top 5 discordian ideals or values first and then packaging them in memetic form second.

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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #73 on: August 10, 2009, 11:56:34 pm »
And I was pimping the memebomb voting tool.
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Re: Anatomy of a Meme
« Reply #74 on: August 11, 2009, 12:03:51 am »
And I was pimping the memebomb voting tool.

Kick ass! :D