Re: virus: memes, yay, lets do it.

Tim Rhodes (
Mon, 14 Jun 1999 17:29:18 -0700

Toxic Waste writes:

>[...] but I wanna see if someone can draw some
>math out of observing and studying them.
>The people you list are known for their mathematical inadequisies.
>They know by intuition, but there are no clear strategies, principles
>or "laws of the meme" common and applicable to all.

A couple summers ago I tried to make a visual model of the movement of a meme through a group of individuals (or memetic vectors). The idea was that each point on a 2D map would correspond to a memetic vector and the color, brightness, and movement (up & down along the 3rd, Z-axis) of each vector would be a memetic property derived from the influence of the points which surrounded it. So each vector, therefore, held three memes (color, intensity and frequency) which could be displayed visually and which would change because of the influence of other, surrounding vectors.

A quality like color=7 in one vector, for instance, might effect its neighboring vector's color values so that some percentage of them would also change their color to "7"; others would change to a value closer to seven (from color=2 to color=5, for instance); and some neighboring vectors would remain unchanged. If correctly modeled one would be able to see the spread of memes literally as waves of color and motion flowing in real time across a computer created memetic landscape.

My early attempts worked--that is to say, they each vector derived its values form its neighbors--but the results didn't behave like a real population. My early models either quickly diffused into an even, unified gray or remained hopelessly static, not transferring properties effectively. This told me that the underlying assumptions I'd made about the maths involved in the model was more than likely incorrect. This sent me back to the drawing board in an attempt to further understand the dynamics at work here.

An unfinished attempt to explore the maths involved in this modeling exercise can be found at:

-Prof. Tim