Re: meme notation (was Re: The Unfathomable)

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Thu, 4 Nov 1999 15:27:49 -0800 (PST)

> Forgive my ignorance but I've been on this list for a long time and
> I still have no freakin' idea what meme is. Could someone please
> give me a definition...
> Eric

Don't feel bad; most of the people who use the word don't understand it fully either, using it as a hip substitute for "idea". Pick up a copy of Richard Dawkins' _Selfish Gene_ without further delay for the origin and full explanation of the word.

In short, a "meme" is a pattern that replicates by the mechanism of learning or imitation. Things like the use of clothes; the practice of marriage; handshaking; religious beliefs; cooking techniques. Under certain conditions, such patterns can produce phenotypes that compete and lead to evolution of complex meme pools ("culture") the same way genetic evolution leads to complex species. One big difference, though, is that memetic evolution is Lamarckian: you can pass on memes acquired within your lifetime.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
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