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Memetics febrero 18, 2008

Posted by Closto in Scholae scripta, Universitas.

Memetics is the science that studies memes, theoretical units of cultural references, this is, pieces of information that can be easily copied. Memes grow by being copied and hosted in different hosts, and by growing they can evolve towards a complex unit of more little units of informations (memes). This structure is called Ideosphere, which are comparable to a biosphere.

It was the biologist, evolutionery theorist and ethnologist Richard Dawkins who first coined the term “meme” in 1976 in his “The Selfish Gene”. He declared that memes are very similar to genes, for both reduplicate in culture and nature. The word “meme” comes from the Greek “mimos” (“mimic”), and is a shortened word for “mimeme”. His creator said he wanted a word that sounded like “gene”, and so did “meme” be born.

According to Dawkins, as memes are reduplicators, they have to fit these three conditions:

-Copying fidelity: If the copies are not faithful to the original pattern, there shall remain less of what was at the beginning.

-Fecundity: The faster the copies are, the more shall the reduplicator be spread; this is, as long as the copies are fast produced, more and more people shall find those reduplications.

-Longevity: The more the original pattern survives, the more could it be copied; this is, if the origianl pattern lives long, more copies can be done to be spread.

It is commonly said that memes are also transmited like genes, this is, vertically. Some may be hidden for years, and others may be copied hundreds of times. That copying or spread can be viewed from different fields such as religion, science, engineering or psychology.

Memes are also affected by the so-called evolutionary influences on them. Those influences can be split in 6 groups:

-Experience: If there is not a strong link between the meme and the experiencer, this one has less probabilities to remember the meme.

-Pleasure/Pain:  The more pleasure the experiencer gets from the meme, the more probabilities it has to be remebered.

-Fear/Bribery: Some memes are threats in themselves, and are introduced to the experiencer in a “do THIS or you will die” style. Those threats may be effective or not, and depending on the rate of effectiveness, those memes shall be remembered better or just forgotten.

-Censorship: Some organisations may erase meme information and so those memes may experience huge damages.

-Economics: Organisations with economic strengh may exhibit a certain meme and so this shall have a larger experiencers. But also can it provide economic goods to his holder. By doing that, it shall be spread more easily.

-Distinction: The relationship between the teller and the hearer of a certain meme can also push it to be more respected or recognized. For example, a meme told by an intelligent person or by a leader may be more repeated than a meme said by a mere worker or by one’s neighbour.




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