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Memes: Self-Replicants or Mysticism?
21 - 30 October
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Are memes, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined them in 1976, self-replicating ideas that evolve like living organisms by natural selection, or, as some of their critics have suggested, hack social science that implies humans are "simply passive objects of impersonal forces outside of our control"?

Memetics expert Aaron Lynch, who independently theorized memes two years after Dawkins, says ideas and beliefs behave like viruses when spread, "programming their own retransmission." Lynch is the author of Thought Contagion: How Belief Spreads Through Society and previously worked at Fermilab as an engineering physicist. Richard Barbrook, a founding member of the Hypermedia Research Centre at the University of Westminster, England, thinks memetics is "dud philosophy, bad science, and reactionary politics." Barbrook is the author of the book Media Freedom, as well as Never Mind the Cyberbollocks, which was submitted as a critique to the September 1996 Ars Electronica Memesis conference.

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[spacer gif] [Aaron Lynch]

Aaron Lynch

RealAudio bio
14.4 or 28.8

"Like a software virus in a computer network or a physical virus in a city, thought contagions proliferate by effectively 'programming' for their own retransmission. Beliefs affect retransmission in so many ways that they set off a colorful, unplanned growth race among diverse 'epidemics' of ideas."

The match begins....
[go to day 1]
[Mark Dery]

Richard Barbrook

RealAudio bio
14.4 or 28.8

"The meme theory is yet another attack on human subjectivity. Our complex social development is first simplified into technological progress, then reduced to culture, and finally explained away through the biology of memes. We're supposed to believe that we're simply empty vessels manipulated by mysterious outside powers."


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