Saturday, 13 July 2013

Memetic drive

Susan Blackmore is the best known user of the term "memetic drive". She wrote:
Successful memes changed the selective environment, favouring genes for the ability to copy them. I have called this process memetic drive.
However, that's not an obvious way to use the term - and there are other competing possibilities:

  • "Memetic drive" is quite a good term for meme-led meme-gene coevolution.
  • "Genetic drive" is most commonly used to refer to "meiotic drive".
  • "Genetic drive" is also fairly commonly used to refer to instincts.
These all seem better than Sue's proposal to me. In case anyone is wondering how "meiotic drive" applies to memes, memetics doesn't prominently feature meiosis, but it does feature cooperative memeplexes where some specific memes gain a transmission advantage. The GPL is a good example of this. It is included in complex software packages, but it hitchhikes on all the other memes it is packaged with, and uses legal threats against users to promote its own propagation.

"Memetic drive" seems to be a conflicted term. Though it has some possibilities, I don't personally use it. I encourage users to offer a definition if they do so. Also, I recommend against using the term with Sue's proposed meaning - we can surely manage to do better than that.

No comments:

Post a Comment