Life in Organisations LO9995

Peter Marks (
Mon, 16 Sep 1996 09:29:59 -0700 (PDT)

Replying to LO9961 --

Ben Compton writes:

> A meme is a way of transmitting culture.

Bear in mind that by strict application of memish theory, 'meme' is just
one meme of one particular culture ("Nerdish"?).

> It is an idea, a song, a trend, a fashion, anything that contributes to
> or defines our culture.

At this level of abstraction, the 'meme' concept is merely narrow, in that
it attempts to discretize culture.

> Just like the human body is made up of a bunch of cells, with each cell
> having its own genetic code, so culture is ma de up of a bunch ideas,
> with each idea having its own memetic code.

However, if speaking of memes serves to reduce a rich, pulsating culture -
a gestalt of artifacts, interactions, rules, practices, ideas, and
feelings - to "a bunch of ideas", then it's probably too superficial a
notion to produce any valuable insight.

> Cells replicate, and memes replicate.

It's more usual in memish to analogize the meme to the gene, rather than
to the cell. In fact, from some of the descriptions of "what memes do",
they can just as well be mapped to viruses.

But I wonder about the viability of the mapping at all. A characteristic
of genetic replication - from which flows so many of its characteristics -
is that it is generally very accurate. Cultural replication seems to me
very much the reverse - general similarity but typically much difference
in detail.

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