External Storage of Memes: Culture, Media, Cyberspace

  • Hoyle Leigh


In this chapter, we examine how memes leave the brain and reside outside of human brains. It is this ability of memes to leave the human brain and stay alive, replicate, and evolve that makes memes truly immortal and may form a bridge between carbon-based life forms and other life forms. What leaves the brain as communication is progenies of memes encapsulated in behavior and language. When memes began to spread as imitations, proximity was an important constraint. A consequence of successful communication is replication of the memes conveyed, which may in turn become a parasite of the sender and receiver. The information itself, the meme, now becomes a replicator that coevolves with the brains. Communication simultaneously involves the sender and receiver in two different relationships: first, as conspecifics with potentially divergent genetic and social interests, but also as potential hosts to a more or less robust, parasitic replicator memes with their own evolutionary interests. In the course of this coevolution, parasitic memes have produced specialized memes that serve memes at the expense of genetic and biological interests. With the advent of written language, memes found a permanent niche in scrolls and books. The replication of memes exploded exponentially with electronic media with instant and global distribution and communication. We may be at a stage of a paradigm shift in evolution – from genes to memes. By shedding the dependence on earthbound biology, genes may have achieved the next stage of evolution in the form of memes. Cyberspace is a creation of memes in which only memes can reside! It is a space to which any meme-containing device such as our brains and computers can be attached and it is potentially limitless in size. When memes are freed from the confines of brains that are dependent on gene multiplication, there is less need for the memes to co-opt genes for their purpose. Memetic liberation may thus result in the liberation of gene-based brains from the imperative of memetic replication.


Niche Construction Computer Virus Baldwin Effect Parasitic Replicator Neural Excitation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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