To make a meme
I’m not sure how to preface this, person on the other end of the screen.
But I want to make clear that this is just a ramble. I’ve stayed correct to the best of my ability, but I’m sorry if I step on a favorite theory of yours.
I’m writing this because the meme contest has sent me on an odd curve of learning that I think is interesting enough to share, but also because I don’t think I’ve really contributed anything of value to the community. I do love this, everything about this, and all of you. I just don’t know how to translate things well to an online persona. Often, it’s easier just to be sarcastic an a passive reader until something angers up the blood. I’m trying to make this different.
No talk of memery would be at all complete unless it began with Darwin. (really)
Darwin’s great discovery was that animals change over time - things can “evolve” or adapt to the pressures imposed upon them given sufficient time. This is more or less accepted knowledge, but what may be somewhat less apparent is the mechanism by which this process takes place.
Although genes had long been suspected as the carriers of change (monks v beans, 1866), it was Richard Dawkins who cemented them as the focal point of evolution in his silver-medal work The Selfish Gene. Building on the works of George C. Williams, Dawkins theorizes that depending on your gene’s “closeness” to another, there are different incentives at play, and that your genes are actually the ones calling the shots.
To bastardize for the sake of simplicity, the selfish gene theory means that If dangling from a cliff in front of you is someone who shares 50% your genes, and another who shares 2% - you’re going to save your sister. But there’s more that happens when you save someone…
In the mind of your sister
She’s incredibly grateful, and now see’s you as a hero. Whereas before you were just her stupid brother, now you’ve saved her from certain death. Her genes couldn’t have continued without your intervention…
‘Something’ has changed. The “meta data” is different now (yw coders). You head back into town and your sister tells everyone what you did. Expressing the change in genetic metadata through the medium of sound to whole town – “bro’s a hero”.
All of a sudden this idea that was in her head (you a hero) - something to be thought of as a physical object that resides in her brain – has now spread to the brains of the whole town. Now the whole town now thinks of you, and your genes, differently.
She’s created a meme.
An idea that replicates. Something that rings true and carries from person to person.
Is there someone you respect? Why do you respect them? Why do you dislike those you dislike? How do you share the ideas you have? Which ones catch on?
So that was the first half of Dawkins’ big idea. Genes change and can be shared with each other in myriads of ways that we had not considered. The meme is the base unit by which genes transfer information between each other in a non-reproductive manner. If you’re getting images of little aliens driving around your body as a vessel - you’re not far off. Imagine how people in the 70’s ‘accepted’ the idea. The other half is even better though.
He may have spent the twilight of his career cementing himself as a staunch atheist, but to Biologists he will always be the author of the The Extended Phenotype.
If there is a holy trinity of evolution texts, I would argue that included in them would be The Extended Phenotype (n ill fight u about it). If what Darwin discovered was analogous to electricity, then Dawkins would be Francis Ronalds (First working telegraph, 1816) because he opened it from a static theory to a living, breathing method of communication between the deepest parts of ourselves.
The main theory goes something like; genes make up the things you can’t change about yourself, like your face, hair color, taste for flavor X over Y - but they also express as the things that you CAN change. The clothes you prefer to wear, the car you drive and the siding on your house are all an expression of your genes. Just like how a bird will build a glorious nest to attract a mate, so too will you go out of your way in some predetermined fashion for love. (“love”) Just as easily as you can eat something you don’t like, you can change an extended phenotype to fit in a pinch. You can’t change your genes, but your clever genes have a way of making up for it.
The idea that the reach of our genes extends far, far into the environment is a staggering one, but it’s not the important part.
If you do something outlandish like put a feather in your cap in your quest for power and glory - to ‘display’ is a double-edged sword. You MUST show people your innovation, but in doing so, I can copy your meme.
I can copy it.
This is when it struck me how analogous a profile on Cardano would be to a real-world sharing of ideas.
How many great ideas do you imagine were firewalled into silence? How many geniuses and innovators were stifled because their platforms censored or defunded them? How often has someone claimed to have relevant credentials in an online discussion, but in fact had no such thing.
Cardano finally gives us a transparent platform where we have to represent our real selves in the digital world. A new digital Agora.
A system as transparent and accountable as me looking you in the face and telling you I’m going home and stealing your feather-in-hat idea means that great ideas can spread like wildfire. Great ideas, and great memes, can live and thrive. I think that’s exciting.