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PHD-DESIGN  July 2018

PHD-DESIGN July 2018

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Subject:

Re: meme

From:

Fernando Galdino <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 20 Jul 2018 17:13:27 +0200

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text/plain

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Hi Gunnar,

Yes. Before becoming internet lingo, "memes" was coined by Richard Dawkins
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme> for " is an idea, behavior, or style
that spreads from person to person within a culture".

This is super useful for design. That's what design ethnographers are
looking for in the field. All the non-written rules about how to understand
and operate objects can be classified as "memes".

Memes are the reason why you look at a door handle and knows how to operate
them - and why you fail to do so when they behave differently (imagine
opening a door where you need to turn the handle up instead of down).

Red, yellow and green light is a meme and useful code - at least in the
global north and west - to say when something is prohibited, allowed under
certain circumstances / carefully or open / free. We use that in interfaces
all the time.



Just playing with the questions. Please ready in a playful vibe - I tend to
communicate via jokes that sometimes don't translate so well in written
text. Let's go:



*I won't waste everyone's time with my objections to Blackmore's thinking
generally. Let's assume for a moment that meme are the explanation she
claims. What do we do with that? How does the idea move us forward?*

We can understand and use memes present in the now to design an object of
the future in a way that people can easily understand and use it then in
the future. We do that without the term, but still...


*If genes are the smallest bits of DNA that can be copied and then do
something, what are the smallest cultural bits? *

Good question. Not sure. I would stick to the "imitation" definition.


*How do these bits replicate?*

We see someone doing it. We do it too. If you forget how to do it, it dies.
You remember / write / document, it lives.


*If a gene can be either expressed or dormant, does the same exist in
memetic evolution? *

Ask the Egyptian sarcophagus.


*How can we tell the difference between dormant memes and extinct memes? *

When they are and there is no documentation or anyone doing it - extinct.
If they come back to life, they were just pretending and were dormant.


*Gene choices for expression are limited by having two parents supplying
the replicators; how many parents do memes have and what does that mean
about the way they can combine? *

No limits. E.g. Languages are huge meme families with contributions coming
from billions of people over centuries.


*If genes are combined in an orderly and probabilistic manner, generally
fitting in one place on a chromosome, what (if anything) is the analog to
that for memes? *

Brainstorm and creativity in general. Facebook has a chat bot. Bot comes
from robot. That was coined in Czech Republic from the word "robota" that
means "servant". The guys were probably inspired by Frankenstein's monster,
that was probably inspired by the Jewish legend of the Golem of Prague. So
in a sense chat bots are eastern Europeans?


*If a gene moves to a new position can express itself in an entirely
different function, what is the memetic version. . . ?*


Have you seen carnival in Europe, Brazil and New Orleans? What "pasta" is
in China, Italy and the US? What beer is in so many different places? Like
animals, memes adapt and mutate over time.

So yes. Moves, reproduces and adapts I would say.

:)


*Fernando Galdino*
Designer | Ethnographer | Futurist
[log in to unmask]
about.me/fernandogaldino
skype:galdino.fernando
+4915157818493

On 20 July 2018 at 16:00, Gunnar Swanson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> In the "On Human-centered design" thread, Fernando Galdino brought up
> "meme theory." Can anyone tell me why thinking about memes is useful?
>
> > On Jul 20, 2018, at 7:22 AM, Fernando Galdino <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >
> > The ideas of Susan Blackmore (her Ted Talk might help to get it in short)
> > <https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_blackmore_on_memes_and_temes>, fit this
> > point of view and illustrate something bigger - where Don's observations
> > are more a symptom than an illness.
> >
> > In sum: The technology we are creating is another evolutionary force and
> > might not care so much about what humans think about it. It just use us
> to
> > multiply / perpetuate itself.
>
>
> For anyone unfamiliar with the idea of memes, Richard Dawkins tried
> applying his neo Darwinism to other areas and posited the possibility of a
> "meme"--the cultural analog to the gene. The idea of cultural evolution was
> common in 1976 when the book 'The Selfish Gene' came out. Cultural
> evolution as commonly thought of seemed to many to be purposeful; it was a
> march of progress, a demonstration of the survival of the fittest.
>
> Just as Dawkins moved evolutionary beliefs to a more mechanistic model, so
> he suggested that the cultural world might (must?) work the same way.
> (There seems to be as much ego as thought involved in Dawkins' on-and-off
> promotion of meme theory. Dawkins claims that “Darwinism is too big a
> theory to be confined to the narrow context of the gene.”)
>
> Although there are others, Daniel Dennett, Dawkins, and Susan Blackmore
> have been the big promoters of the meme meme. Daniel Dennett wrote: “Meme
> evolution is not just analogous to biological or genic evolution, according
> to Dawkins. It is not just a process that can be metaphorically described
> in these evolutionary idioms, but a phenomenon that obeys the laws of
> natural selection quite exactly.”
>
> In her TED talk, Blackmore said “A meme is not equivalent to an idea. It's
> not an idea. It's not equivalent to anything else, really. Stick with the
> definition. It’s that which is imitated, or information which is copied
> from person to person.”
>
> I won't waste everyone's time with my objections to Blackmore's thinking
> generally. Let's assume for a moment that meme are the explanation she
> claims. What do we do with that? How does the idea move us forward?
>
> If genes are the smallest bits of DNA that can be copied and then do
> something, what are the smallest cultural bits?
>
> How do these bits replicate?
>
> If a gene can be either expressed or dormant, does the same exist in
> memetic evolution?
>
> How can we tell the difference between dormant memes and extinct memes?
>
> Gene choices for expression are limited by having two parents supplying
> the replicators; how many parents do memes have and what does that mean
> about the way they can combine?
>
> If genes are combined in an orderly and probabilistic manner, generally
> fitting in one place on a chromosome, what (if anything) is the analog to
> that for memes?
>
> If a gene moves to a new position can express itself in an entirely
> different function, what is the memetic version. . . ?
>
>
> Gunnar
>
> Gunnar Swanson
> East Carolina University
> graphic design program
>
> http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cfac/soad/graphic/index.cfm
> [log in to unmask]
>
> Gunnar Swanson Design Office
> 1901 East 6th Street
> Greenville NC 27858
> USA
>
> http://www.gunnarswanson.com
> [log in to unmask]
> +1 252 258-7006
>
>
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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> Discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design
> Subscribe or Unsubscribe at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/phd-design
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