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← Meme Theory, Zahavi's Handicap, and the Baldwin Effect

QuestioningKat's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by QuestioningKat

Hey Z, I want to start off by saying that I appreciate the effort you took to post this topic. I realize how much effort it takes. Now that you are no longer on the main page, your ideas have less of a chance of being seen and surviving for much longer. ;)

Admittedly, I am probably one of the least scientifically literate people here, but I have lots of experience working with ideas, design and artwork, so I will let you determine if my view has any worth.

Basically, I think you are overlooking the various levels of ideas from the initial creation or conception to the point when it becomes a staple or tradition in society.

Working on an individual creative act certainly is aligned with natural selection (maybe artificial selection too), but the process happens at lightning speed. Ideas are connected with other ideas, edited, changed, pondered...until a final decision or direction is made. One large creative effort such as writing a book can viewed as an analogy to Evolution. Within this microcosm, a mini Evolution is taking place within the creative work and within the ideas and thought processes of the "creator."

When you have so many mutations in generation one, that suggests we are not dealing with a replicator at all. We have something closer to the X to Y to Z to A model.

Yes, that is correct. It goes from x to y to z in an individual creative endeavor. You're looking too closely at only one aspect of the creative process. I'll continue.

You think it doesn't look right, so you edit it and write an improvement. You reread it, edit it, and so on. At what point can we say that there are distinct replicator generations between memes?

Certainly not at this point. Again you are looking at one individual going through an entire "evolution" for their creative endeavor. A person that designs a hat needs to experiment with materials, structure, sizing, different designs, textures, etc. This is confined to one person or a unit focusing on one particular project. Notice how changes are happening quickly? If the craftsman is talented chances are he is visualizing the options inside of his head and changing his internal visualizations by the seconds. He sees his hat as wide brimmed, then changes it to purple, now brown, felt is then visualized then changed to leather.

Now let's start to zoom out from the fast paced microcosm to a larger, slower world view. As we move outward, the speed that an idea hits the masses is dependent upon communication and people promoting the idea. The microcosm flourishes with change, adaptation, "the New", the innovative at lightning speed. At the opposite end are the staples and traditions. It maintains its presence by stability, the familiar, the usual. Staples are the little black dress, or a pair of jeans. (Notice that they have slightly changed over the years. If they did not, they would have died out as a trend.) As products or physically concrete objects are shown to others, the idea behind the object, what what it intangibly represents (or even the physical form) is acknowledged. Some of these ideas then move towards mini trends. They take off because they are valued in some way by other people. At this point, the idea, may be tweaked by someone else (needing less energy and thought compared to the initial idea.) As more people are exposed, then the idea can move towards being a full trend. The changing or evolving of the idea slows down but still has the possibility of changing or branching off if the idea reaches an "innovator" If the idea doesn't reach an "innovator" or the innovator hesitates to act, the trend continues as communication brings the idea to the masses. Eventually, some people (who are certainly not as creative as the "innovators" decide that they like this idea so much because of the social benefits that they personalize it and pass it along to close friends, families, or associates. They incorporate it into their life, but they do not change it.

When an idea comes to this point, it either continues to shift slightly and continue on by mutating into different ideas or it becomes stagnant. If it becomes stagnant, things get ugly if the idea becomes outmoded.

At this point I need to stop because it was a busy week and hopefully I made sense. Your post is long and I need to take a look at the rest of it before commenting. So far, I think that you are viewing ideas or memes with a microscope and need to step back and view the bigger picture of trends and macrotrends along with traditions. The fortunate thing about macrotrends and traditions is that an equal and opposite effect usually occurs in response to the prevailing idea or ideology. We may fear the religious meme, but counterculture has been kicking in.

Sat, 21 Jul 2012 01:41:26 UTC | #949704