I first started when I was out jogging around town, and I would pick up bits of rubbish and chuck them in the bin while I was going, and I thought about how if everybody in town picked up one bit of rubbish per day, the town would probably be clean all the time. And I wondered, "How can I infect everybody in town with this 'Unlitterbug Meme' (1)?"
Oh, and by the way, I have been working on a notational system (5) for characterizing memetic systems, and I hope to introduce the basics of it in terms of a few simple systems which I designed and implemented in a controlled setting, and from which I got a treasure trove of useful data and insights. I may also be able to characterize these systems in terms of transition matrices, which is another modeling system I have been working on.
Non-Imitation is the Sincerest form of Apathy
The problem of apathy has come up a lot in my experiments. I am still working on characterizing it. I realized that the Unlitterbug Meme was not going to prosper from people imitating me running around doing it, especially since I ran around early in the morning when few others were around. That's when I came up with the idea of attaching a libidinal reward. I thought about how if some disaster happens, like a busload of orphans going off a cliff (2), it gets people's attention and one can then fix memes in their minds.
This is kind of a leap, and I don't know why I thought of it, i.e., that emotional, physiological stimulus can lead to memetic infection. I think it was from Slavoj Zizek in A Pervert's Guide to Ideology, and something to do with his idea of "liberation" of libidinal elements associated with ideology (3), except I wanted to take it in the reverse direction, I wanted to use libidinal elements (4) to stimulate the infection with given memes or memetic systems of my own design.
Getting Down to Brass Tacks
I have noticed, and it has come up in discussions, that a good
example of a collection of memetic states is needed, and that I don't
really seem to have one yet. I need an "elevator pitch" for the concept
of memetic states and how they relate to MIAOs and the memes that
influence them. I think I probably need to incorporate the concepts of
ideomemetic systems and MIAOplexes in this example.
need some kind of scenario, a collection of MIAOs, some memes (including
immunomemes), and a collection of transition matrices, including
(example) ideomemetic transition matrices for various hypothetical
individuals that make up the cohort of the memetic fabric (or subsection
of fabric) under consideration.
Memetic Guinea Pigs in a Memetic Petri Dish
I performed a number of real-life experiments which I will discuss, and then attempt to apply the notational system I am working to perfect...or at least to elaborate. I'll try to put up some pictures of the symbolic system I've devised, in addition to the LISP-like notational system I've been working on over the past few days.
I'm interested in
considering the Blue Shirt Tuesday Doughnut scenario. It's simple, and I
have done actual experimentation on this very memeplex, with results
that have led directly to a number of memetic theories. I could also
contrast this with the Koffee Klatch scenario, especially if I wanted to
bring in the concept of residual memetic debt, which seems to be
very usual in illumination various "cheating" behaviors (1). The Prime
Pizza Thursday scenario is another good example of how lack of residual
memetic debt seems to curtail cheating, and offers solid experimental
proof (2). The doughnut scenario especially illuminated the concept of memetic polarization.
hope to put forward my diagrams for memetic systems as well. I have
been using them in my comics, but I need to make them more rigorous, and
bring them more into line with the actual transition matrices they try
to represent. I think this will be the stuff of another essay, when I try to analyze the following memetic systems using my notational systems.
Blue Shirt Tuesday Doughnuts
Obviously, it's a bit gauche to try to hand out money (as I did with the Unlitterbug Meme (6)) to a bunch of engineers as a form of libidinal reward/inducement, so then I hit upon the idea of bringing doughnuts every Tuesday, with a sign reading that one had to be wearing a blue shirt in order to have a free doughnut (7). That was the extent of it. By the way, this was on the heels of both my failure to infect the city of Porcadis (Moscow) with the Unlitterbug Meme (6), but also not getting my department to all start wearing blue shirts on Tuesday (8) just by imitating my wearing one myself.
One objective was to see how easy it was to create a self-policing memetic system in a given memetic cohort, on a given memetic fabric, i.e., a small division of corporate staff in a shared building. It turned out to be very easy. It took hold and there was practically no cheating. I thus discovered the concept of memetic polarization, i.e., how much of the memetic fabric is infected with a given memeplex, or "anti-infected" with it. I had long known/suspected that the way to design an effective memeplex is to make sure that there is a separate set of memes for the "rebels," so they can "feel" that they are thumbing their noses at the system, but in fact they are participating just as much as anybody. In fact, on a few Tuesdays, somebody brought an "anti-blue-shirt-Tuesday" box of doughnuts, saying that anybody could have them, blue shirt or no. Another fun fact was that some people reported that they deliberately did not wear a blue shirt on Tuesday in order to rebel against the system (as I mentioned before -- non-participation is the same as participation), and other non-wearers said they didn't want to be tempted and get fat from eating too many doughnuts. Few seemed to wear random shirt colors because they didn't care one way or another -- which would equal a high degree of polarization of the memetic fabric.
Prime Pizza Thursday
Whenever a Thursday fell on a prime number, I brought free pizzas and put out an "idea box" along with pens and bits of paper where people were invited to write a prime number and "an idea" on a piece of paper and throw it into the box in exchange for a free slice of pizza. Again, there was no discernible cheating. I would then type up all of the responses and send them out to the whole building. The responses were all anonymous, of course -- only the submitters themselves knew what they had submitted.
Again, this was an effort to get people to do something, and have it be more measurable, i.e., did I get a number of responses proportional to the amount of pizza -- I did. I also wanted to see if libidinal rewards could overcome apathy, and see to what extent people would open up given this reward and the promise of anonymity. There were many ridiculous or frivolous responses, some impractical suggestions and ideas (put a beer garden on the roof, etc.), but also some relevant questions and work-related suggestions.
I made myself into a memetic nexus, and all participants got the memetic reward of everybody in the building being told their idea (meme) at the same time the next day. This may not have been an insignificant motivation. Anyway, given libidinal reward, responses could be elicited. Also, it was expected that 90% would be crap, but that there might be 10% good stuff and/or consensus in there and you have to put up with the crap to get it. The crap makes everybody comfortable.
The idea was that me and a buddy decided to revive an old "Coffee Club" from before. We put out a "Koffee Klatch Kontribution Kitty," and I seeded it with a couple of bucks, and we took an unused coffee pot and clearly labeled it, got real cream to go with it, and started brewing gourmet coffee, much better than the office fare provided. I insisted that we not announce it, or try to prevent cheaters.
We immediately saw that I'd make a pot in the morning, have one cup, my buddy didn't even have time to have one cup, but well before noon the coffee was mostly gone. Of course, no money was added to the kitty. This was a distinct departure from the cheat-preventing Blue Shirt Tuesday and Prime Pizza Thursday. What was the difference? My idea was that there was residual memetic debt (10), and also the idea that the system of opportunities for bullying (immunomemeplex) was ill-conceived compared to these other two systems. Actually, it didn't really have one. People are not really "moral," but they love the chance to bully others for not being moral. Also, the certainty of being bullied provides a disincentive (or an incentive...!) to disobey the rules.
Anyway, more experimentation on this kind of system is required. Please try it and let me know if you get more data. For example, a Koffee Klatch that has clearer rules and behaviors to do with cheating, and with "club membership." In Blue Shirt and Prime Pizza, there is a sense of being a member of the memeplex -- there are memes that enforce that, where as in Koffee Klatch, membership can remain secret, and so affords little or no bullying opportunity.
What Causes Cheating?
I got the idea from the Blue Shirt Tuesday, Prime Pizza Thursday, and Koffee Klatch experiments that cheating may be influenced (or even caused...?) by what I termed Residual Mememtic Debt. I point to how with the doughnuts and the pizza, the contract is clear: wear a blue shirt, get a free doughnut; write down a prime number and an idea, free pizza. However ridiculous the contract is, the individual has no doubt that they have fulfilled it, and so they write their chit or wear their shirt, and they know that they have 100% satisfied the contract and can have the treat. They also receive the reward from their fellows of having enacted the memes of the system into which they are all polarized. There is no "residual" feeling that they did not get enough reward for their effort, or that they got more than they deserved for their participation. The tacit or explicit memetic feedback from bystanders (fellow cohort members) confirms this.
Perhaps partly because it was to do with money, partly because the terms were vague, there was rampant cheating in the Koffee Klatch. Further experiments are required, but I attribute it to ideas such as "I'll pay later," or "I paid a dollar, and I had one cup, but I should be able to have a couple more, since a dollar is too expensive..." and so on. Or, more memetically, there was no clear participation "flag" for other cohort members to pounce on as bullying opportunities, while the other two memetic systems had these, i.e., non-blue shirt trying to eat doughnut, tell them not to, or taking pizza without writing and tossing in a chit, same story.
There may also be the idea that cohort members are afraid that the party will be over if too many people start cheating. This is a bit dodgy, however, since it mentioned the "feelings" of some ill-defined person or persons. It may be fair commentary, however, that successful memeplexes, whatever it is that they "provide," be it doughnuts, pizza, a functioning economy, a space program, or what-have-you, have an appropriate set of self-reinforcing memes, and immunomemeplexes, to keep them going, engage enough people, and prevent the system from being overwhelmed by other systems and/or by cheaters.
Two of the systems I mentioned were very good about preventing cheating, the other failed miserably to do so. Why? More experimentation with the Koffee Klatch is probably needed. I could speculate that the immunomemeplex was too weak, or that there was residual memetic debt, or perhaps these two are in fact related.
I want to use the above three systems as subjects to demonstrate the uses of my diagrammatic system and my LISP-like notational systems. Since I know these systems and how they function in real life, and they're simple, I should be able to represent their dynamics using whatever system I have come up with, and the results should be perfectly clear. Once these are perfected, they may be used as analysis tools for systems under study. After all, it's no good applying an unproven analytical tool to an unknown memplex!
(1) A name I thought of later
(2) I don't know why I thought of this analogy, but at the time, this was it. September 11 is no doubt an example -- it sticks in the mind and is a memetic anchoring site.
(3) such as the symbols and images of Nazism, i.e., they are inherently meaningless, but in the right context and taken together, they evoke Nazism, and that ideological attachment remains afterwards.
(4) such as free money, free food, sensuality, or the promise thereof
(5) See the Schrödinger's Catechresis and Running Scared (also in Japanese) mangas.
(6) Actually, not just "meme" but Unlitterbug Memeplex.
(7) That is the "contract." See later the contrast with the Koffee Klatch, and the genesis of the theory of Residual Memetic Debt, which I also hope to include in my dynamic model.
(8) The idea was to create a simple memetic system, attached to one or more basic MIAOs, and then carry on to anchoring various departmental values and procedures to said memeplex, and thereby make the work behaviors automatic, self-regulating, and spread the workload, which was unevenly heaped on the managers, around to everybody. And it would've worked, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids! (9)
(9) Random Scooby-Doo! reference.
(10) Residual Memetic Debt may be key in the progenesis of intergenerational abuse and even genocide, since the memetic loop is not closed. I want to characterize memetic transactions in terms of whether memetic/libidinal investment is "paid back" as the result of the response of the cohort to a given memetic enactment.
模倣子 Memetic Essays