Sun Sep 13 17:55:49 PDT 2015

Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme by Richard Brodie

Virus of the Mind
(Virus of the Mind)

Having thoroughly enjoyed Getting Past Ok, naturally I had to read Virus of the Mind. And I was not disappointed - it is another very interesting read. The discussion of memes around the web and world has been substantial. However, personally, I had not thought about memes too much until this read. (My theory was that fashions are well understood and have existed for thousands of years - there was probably nothing new in memes). Although, this book is titled 'new science' and occasionally comments that memetics is a 'new science', I managed to be able resist that notion without without resisting the general ideas that the book presents and summarizes. The chief idea is: - that the transmissibility of ideas is a primary property which determines the success of an idea. Transmissibility is not equated with usefulness or other forms of value. Ideas exploit the wiring needed by humans to survive and thrive. We are overly interested in danger, competition for resources, nutrition and expanding the tribe.

The four Fs: Fear, Fighting, Food and 'Finding Mates' - are hardwired into us and lead us to be particularly attuned to ideas which combine these interests. We have additional sensitivities, such as a reluctance to avoid cheaps insurance and bargains in general, which make life easier for idea and meme manufacturers. I was fascinated by the book - and I searched the web for additional information on memes.

This produces a torrent of information, of course. However, here are two useful meme related links: - this is Richard Brodies' web site dedicated to memes. I believe that it is not as actively maintained as it once was - but it is an interesting resource. There is an mp3 of an interview with Richard Brodie from 1996, on Radio Curious. It is well worth a listen.

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