Friday, April 07, 2006

How do we identify a meme?

A meme appears in the mind as a directive in the form of,

'Do this!'

(For example, “Support the war” or “Drive a Volvo” or “Learn to play golf.”)

This directive may be:

  • General (a heuristic).
  • Specific (an algorithm).

An example of a heuristic would be, “Bake a cake.” This is a general directive that could result in one of thousands of variations of “cake,” based upon such influences as culture, experience, technology and available ingredients.

An example of an algorithm would be, “Brew 20,000 liters of Coca-Cola.” This is a specific directive. The Coca-Cola Co. follows a specific recipe that results, day after day, in the creation of its world-famous beverage. Hundreds of employees take part in the process, yet the result is the same over and over.

Heuristics are far more common than algorithms.

In the physical world, a heuristic manifests as an archetype, a general pattern to be followed. But an algorithm manifests as a formula, such as a recipe or an equation.

Copyright 2006 by W.O. Cawley Jr.


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