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Thread: a MySpace experiment in memetics

  1. #1 a MySpace experiment in memetics 
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    I just read a MySpace bulletin one of my friends had posted (called 'fakes') where readers are asked to repost it if they're 'real' friends. It seemed obvious that this was a potential 'chain bulletin'. Now at the moment i'm reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. So i immediately started thinking about how strong a replicator this is as it appeals to a strong emotional value; that of friendship. Also the interconnection of so many people in a social network will lead to it travelling quickly and if it's strong enough it will soon be visible to virtually everyone.

    I realised that this could be a great experiment in memetics. What you could do is post self-replicating bulletins with an attached meme and see how quickly they travel to various distributed points in the network. For example, person A posts a bulletin explaining an idea like 'Israel commited war crimes during it's attack on Lebanon' and then asking the reader to repost it if they agree. People B, C, D etc are all unconnected from person A and from each other. They each time how long it takes for the bulletin to be posted by one of their friends. Any mutations would be interseting to see as well.

    In the future i'd like to try some other memes including a 'weak' one to see how easy it is for them to become replicated. It will probably quickly become a much tougher environment for the bulletins to replicate in as people become annoyed by these chain bulletins taking up too much space. But it is possible that even then, the strongest of memes will be capable of propagating through the network. The high ratio of connections to nodes means that a minimum of replications will be required for maximum visibility.

    As a starting point i'd like to ask any of you who have MySpace profiles to post here the time and date that you first see the 'fakes' bulletin. If it ever reaches you. Of course, this could easily just die straight away since many people are already annoyed with chain e-mails and a lot of people will recognise the similarity.

    I first saw it at 17:36, 21/08/06.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Please post the result of your experiment, sounds very interesting! I don't use myspace though, so I can only watch from the sideline.


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  4. #3  
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    I have not seen that one, but I don't check myspace during the week so it may have come through. Since we do not know where, when, or how it started it will be hard to tell how fast it is "moving". When starting a meme it is also important to note that some topics will be stronger with the myspace crowd. Although, the Jewish attack on Lebanon idea creates strong feelings to interested people, most teenagers probably won't have an opinion. It sounds like a great experiement though, please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

    Cheese
    "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. " Albert Einstein

    "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it." Gen. Robert E. Lee
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