virus: Information basics 2

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 21 Apr 1999 08:49:53 +0100

Decided to cut (almost) straight to the chase, and fill in later as and when questions are asked.

To recap on Info basics 1: information comes in two flavours, subjective and objective. These are absolute terms, unlike the way in which descriptions of things are judged relatively subjective or objective. In absolute terms, all descriptions made and used by people are subjective, while only the information actually embodied by a physical thing is objective. All the information with which we deal is subjective, however closely it might approximate to information that is actually "out there", in the form of physical reality.

Do memes reside "in the mind"? If so, define that phrase. Are they "in the brain"? If so, in what form, and how can they be distinguished from all the other information in there? "In the memory"? In which case, do all memories qualify, or just some, and which ones? And underlying all these questions is that of whether memes are subjective or objective.

All cultural information is subjective, and memes are items of subjective information that replicate. I believe that "subjective information" covers all the ground that was intended by "in the mind", "in the brain", and "in the memory", and does so with maximal clarity and conciseness. I really don't think it can be bettered. Being items of subjective info, memes are always encoded within objective info, so the location of instances of them depends on appropriate decryption. Behaviour and artefacts, as media of transmission, might well be considered phemotypes, but variation and selection also occur within individuals, so I suggest that the phemotype is any item of objective information that encodes a meme.

Questions, please.

Robin Faichney
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