Saturday, 27 July 2013

Dimensional analysis of memes

Memetic linkage uses a distance metric to help determine the chance of two contiguous pieces of cultural information being inherited together. Where you have a distance metric, you can use it to do a kind of dimensional analysis. Not the kind of dimensional analysis where you compare the units of different quantities, but the kind where you calculate the number of dimensions from multiple distance measurements. This is sometimes known as a Hausdorff dimension.

Dimensional analysis of memes clearly shows that most memes are one or two dimensional. Speech is one dimensional. Images are two-dimensional. Writing consists of two-dimensional characters, arranged in a one-dimensional stream, coiled up in two dimensions on pages. Videos are mostly two dimensional. The limit on the dimensionality of memes generally matches the dimensional limits on our audio and visual sensors.

Are there any higher dimensional memes? In theory, brains and computers can create simulations of higher-dimensional spaces. The brain routinely constructs a three-dimensional model of the world, and movie directors could potentially transmit their three-dimensional models to others - in which case maybe there will be some three-dimensional memetic linkage. Maybe. It's not easy to produce compelling examples of cases where three-dimensional linkage inside brains has been significant. Another main case for higher dimensional memes involves computers. Computers can potentially create hyperspaces with large numbers of dimensions, and transmit these verbatim to other computers. No doubt in the future there will be good examples of higher dimensional memes inside computers. Another potential case of three-dimensional memes is three-dimensional artifacts. While such objects are clearly three-dimensional, the memes that produce them are rarely three-dimensional. Instead, they often reside in factories and manufacturing facilities as one-dimensional construction recipies and two-dimensional plans. However, perhaps it can be granted that some three-dimensional artifacts probably represent three-dimensional memeplexes.

However, I think that today, the bottom line is that one- and two-dimensional memes and memeplexes dominate the ideosphere.

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