Glyphs & Graphs is a writing experiment by Naveen Srivatsav - an attempt at hypertext wordplay, intentionally amorphous thought experiments non-committal to any specific genre or topic. Enjoy, and feel free to reach out via social media.

The simplest definition of a meme

Today's train of thought is the idea that "sending a message" is perhaps the simplest identifier/definition of a meme. A meme is anything that is involved in sending a message - carrier, payload, by-product, catalyst, parasite, medium, agent... 

Fashionable attire sends a message, instant messengers send messages, immune system sends messages, university admissions send messages, the Like button sends a message, the statistical aggregation of Likes sends a message, tasty food sends a message, physical presence sends a message even before a word is spoken, tone of voice sends a message, punctuation sends a message, typography sends a message, uniforms send a message, ambulance sirens send a message, sensors send a message, data visualisation sends a message...

What do you think?

Questions to explore on this train:
- who/what is sending the message in each instance?
- is the message being received? in the same spirit it was sent? does it matter?
- what are the messages being sent *other* than the payload?
- to what extent is the payload bolstered/neutered by these other messages?
- what happens after the message is received? what happens when the message is not received?
- is an agent distinct merely by its ability to take on any form of the messaging infrastructure?
- is there a way to deconstruct messages?
- where do messages come from?
- what determines success of a message? is there a science of 'good' messaging and 'bad' messaging?

To the extent that conversation is a potent, intentional route for meme transfer, designing these right is utmost importance and potentially significant. Think of the memetic engineering of conversation comparable to the genetic engineering of biology - we're doing all the time anyway mostly blindly, so let's do it right for once.

This naturally begs the question: what is a good axiomatic definition of a message? Will ponder further.

On the design of social interventions under complexity

Thoughts on complexity