Monday, November 28, 2011

Mimetics vs. Memetics and SciFi

This is still raw and unpolished, but I wanted to get the discussion going.  Please leave a comment if you have read this to the end, I very much would appreciate your opinions.

From Upcoming book on Memetic Engineering by John Sokol, Leveious Rolando

by John Sokol & Leveious Rolando

Mimetics vs. Memetics

Definition for mimetic:
Relating to, constituting, or habitually practicing mimesis.,  mimic - imitative. 
Basically self copying pattens. 

Definition for memetic:
A meme is a unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another. 

mim·ic  (mmk)
tr.v. mim·ickedmim·ick·ingmim·ics
1. To copy or imitate closely, especially in speech, expression, and gesture; ape.
2. To copy or imitate so as to ridicule; mock: always mimicking the boss. See Synonyms at imitate.
3. To resemble closely; simulate: an insect that mimics a twig.
4. To take on the appearance of.

I am extending it's definition as I think it appropriately describe what is going on. 

This is my definition:  
mimetics is the study of self replication or copying in any system. 

 This includes memetics, genetics, temetics. 

"Earth now has three replicators – genes (the basis of life), memes (the basis of human culture) and temes (the basis of technology)," asserts Blackmore, "I argue that the information copied by books, phones, computers and the Internet is the beginning of this third replicator and consequent new evolutionary process."

In any series of self coping we have variability and errors.  This is what creates evolution. As any versions that fail to copy are not expressed in the long term because they by definition can not exist.  Also these rules can bring about some very complex behavior.
Stephan Wolfram a new science of life is all about patterms that stem from simple recursive rules.  Wolfram's patters arise in any mimetic system and is known as an emergent property.   This is where a complex group behavior rises out of many individual actors each following simple rules. 

Mimetics for me is that science, and it applies to biology, business, technology, media, music, art, language and all human ideas and beliefs.

Memetics is the specifics for ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another.

When DNA copies itself it's not a 100% copy. But it's making a copy as close as possible but not necessarily an exact copy. 

Just as in Genetics that is the program code for the machinery of the cells, memetics is the program code for the brain and it exhibits similar properties. 

The English language as a meme.

All language is passed down from generation to generation, it's evolving, writers are constantly experimenting with the use of the language. English is also being altered by technologists, engineers, lawyers, politicians, traders, and entertainment people, musicians, even foreigners using it as a go between common language. With each use is evolves, some phrasing is selected for and some selected against.  Unconsciously we will adopt and repeat wording and mannerisms we are exposed too, the more time around a cultural group the more we adopt their subtle variations of the language.

 Languages as memes contains a number of different levels and dimensions of memes, each with mixtures and interaction of many memes.

We live in this universe of memes, language being the primary carrier. For us they are just as real and tangible as the ground we stand on, but just as a fish doesn't notice it's in living in water, we don't notice this system of meme's that we are immersed in.

One such meme is the convention of driving on the right site of the road. Another is the protocol for how to answer the phone, greet someone at the door or are introduced at a business meeting.
These are learned standards and conventions that we have been repeatedly exposed to. We never question these assumptions and only become aware of them when we visit a place that uses a different set of memes. I believe is this awareness that many people get after visiting India and realizing there is a very different way of thinking and perceiving the world. That our reflexes no longer serve us there and we become consciously aware of how the society interacts. Then upon returning and for a while being aware of how our society is so different before our autopilot filters kick in again and we no longer can perceive it.

This set of memes can be called a framework and much of our daily activity is managed within that framework almost subconsciously.  The problem arises when something new out side of that framework appears, most adults will not even see it, reject it and maybe even reject it even with clear logical evidence.  People actually have a fight or flight response when there frameworks are threatened and because of the limbic system are unable to think logically and rationally about a new idea and in some cases even existing ideas and knowledge.

This is where storytelling and in particular Sci-fi hold the most power. By taking something that's happening today or in the near future and re framing it in to an imaginary context. Such as an anthropomorphised robot or alien in some far away place, it's no longer threatening. They can consider the new information and if only subconsciously see the similarity to our current situation without feeling threatened.

There are many example in where this is done, Race issues in the original Star Trek for example, where they had a race of people ½ black and while fighting because which side what which, but to the audience, most people never notice any difference till it was pointed out.

Most good Sci-fi almost as a requirement pushes some strong meme's related to our present situation but framed in a far off non-threatening context.  Not all of these meme are new meme's.  It's been well documented that Star Wars is based on many powerful classic Shakespearean story lines and the tail of the hero's journey, dusted off modernize in slick 1970's plastic. It also tossed in a fair amount of philosophy and religion and yet never raised any objections by religious people.

So just like comedians often tell the truth hidden in humor, with Sci-fi a truth is hidden within a story in an imaginary setting.  

Crafting memes

Meme's have been crafted and controlled for millennia, is the primary mechanism of religions, states, and corporations to control and organize people.
The names the study of meme's has gone under many names. In more recent times we call on form Marketing and promotion.

Meme's can take on the same strategies of con artists and marketing / sales people.  They will use guilt, fear, exclusivity, greed, anger, or appeal to one's humanity or common courtesy.  Some just out of boredom or because of a small injection of humor.

There are many vectors that a meme can use to travel.  Some meme's will self propagate, some can be done in the context of an organization and some using modern broadcast media, such as TV and film with without an orchestrated push would not self sustain or self propagate.  

A study of the Music or Film industries reveals many case studies of creating memes to promote a band or film.   Things like cross promotions, with music sales and film release for example allow the re-enforcement of efforts to steer public in to product purchase.  How the band the Monkey's was created or the movie Saturday Night Fever are excellent examples of how the music and visual storys were used to create meme's that people for a while followed with an almost cult like following.   So record executives had become masters at predicting what the market would go for and knowing how to promote it with radio air play, use of TV and the talk show circuit, live venues and print media to get an artist to "Blow up".  Basically take off very quickly and make lots of sales before the public fascination with the novel wears off. . (ie 15 minutes of fame)

In Sci-fi this is also similar cases as with Starwars, with it's powerful soundtrack, and special effects, then action figures, toys, books, lunch boxes and other items.

But that just gets and audience to view the film or read the book.  The content itself must also create meme's that will either endure "stick" or are soon forgotten.  Hollywood is knee deep in forgotten Sci-fi films some even turned a profit but just didn't endure.  Again a film like Starwars used classical meme's repackaged in a novel way. Other movies like the Matrix blaze a whole new set of meme's, lay out a whole new Framework it's language use in the film has entered common use.  It's metaphors have proven useful as a way to perceive some issue we see in the world today.  

The movie 2001 a space odyssey set the frame work that we viewed the Apollo moon landing with, in a sense prepare the public perception of what we should expect.  That is the disparity in the promise of 2001 and the reality that NASA was doing that has driven the X Prize and this new private space race.  But these only we fueled by even earlier meme put forth by Jules Verne.

Since the earliest days of Jules Verne and HG Wells and other Sci-fi, science fiction, science fact, and technology have enjoyed a mutually synergistic beneficial relationship. Sci-fi stories and novels expressed man's desire to conquer space, find new worlds or explore the ocean depths, and while man would probably have landed on the moon or launched deep-sea expeditions without them, these tales inspired all those who made such giant leaps.  But it did much more that, it put the idea to many young impressionable minds a new vision and redefined the publics belief as to what is possible and impossible.  Without this opening of minds is it would have been nearly impossible to create actual technologies, to convince others to buy in to the dream.  Without support of the public their would be no quantum leaps in areas of technology and industries, their would be no market for it..

In turn, real-world technology has inspired the science-fiction writer. After all, it's science fiction that charts what happens when humanity meets high technology, asking what will happen, where it will take us, and what we'll find when we get there. This is as true of computer technology as it was of the space race. Perhaps, even more so.Jules Verne ideas were  based on real fringe ideas of the time that  in turn that made him father of Sci-fi! ,

From SciFi to reality

The these fiction writers have influence  many of the technologies we see in use today.   The much of technology we have today would fit almost naturally in the historical Star Trek series. This is no coincidence because the product designers, engineers, and scientists, that developed the technology we use today grew up on Star Trek.  It set the standard, the image in the minds of these now adults who actually crafted that future.

In the  digital age  geek and hacker cultures that have so much influence  PC and Internet- Mobile personalize revolution are hugely Sci-fi literate they are avid consumers of Sci-fi Television, Movies and Novels of such. Writers and experts have even crossed paths; the academics and software engineers becoming Sci-fi writers, the writers earning a name as futurologists.

In this understanding, we have explore how science fiction has motivated trends and products in computing- technologies, and catch a glimpse of where this mutual relationship really takes us in the future.

Major block buster films influence public perception of real-world ideas for new ways to interact. Just look at how the phrase "Minority Report" has become a shorthand for "amazing gestural interface".  and was crucial to the viral spike in attention to  that Many of Historical  Radio show then became  Television show Amazing Stories influence Technology now ..

Futurist management expert - Self-described "social ecologist Peter Drucker was avid reader of  Sci-fi  novels and comic books

This  proves the  influence of New Social Science of  Memes which is define as  acts as a unit for carrying cultural- Visual- Music- Catch phrases, ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable or visual phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and spread  from  Mind to Mind.

Since  so many of the  global populations are  influence by the Internet or television- Entertainment  this is best distribution point of memetic engineering is  multi -media. Examples of memes are musical tunes, jokes, trends, fashions, catch phrases, and car designs. Now,
the memes that inhabit your mind are in competition with all the other memes in the memepool (the collection of all existing memes). This means that they are all competing to get themselves copied into other people's minds. Some of these memes do quite well. Every time you whistle your favorite tune or utter a useful catch phrase, you are facilitating the spread of those memes.

Every time you wear something that is "in fashion" you are helping the idea of that fashion enter other people's minds. Consider the first four notes of Beethoven's 5th symphony, or the "Happy Birthday" song. These are ideas that penetrate our minds and have been very successful at replicating. Not only have these memes found their way in to literally millions of minds, they have also managed to leave copies of themselves on paper, in books, on audiotape, on compact
disks, and in computer hard-drives.

Every time MTV Music Video of top Music Artists with days  you see actual influence of memes globally. So many of Sci Fi writers interests in Science and technology have influence spread of actual dynamic inventions of many of today's ideas and concepts.

The old saying" A picture is worth a thousand words" or the Chinese proverb "the
picture is worth ten thousand words."
This is  the simple definition of  Memes -  the  memetic evolution of Sci-fi meets Innovator, Inventor meets the Mind of Sci-fi writer, which influences the world.

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