Monday, March 4, 2013

Meme Wars (Part 6)

A war for mind share is going on around us.  Ideas struggle for territory in our brains.  In Part 6 of Meme Wars we consider political and social effects of a new meme landscape and I advocate becoming involved in the war between memes.

Meme WarsPart 1 - Part 2 - Part 3  - Part 4 - Part 5Part 6Part 7

Memes in a mind battle for control
Meme Wars

Good ideas are struggling with bad ideas for supremacy in the minds of writers and their readers.  Conservatives and liberals, reactionaries and progressives are warring upon one another with ideas profane and sane.

All over the world established orders of power are being threatened by communications through new technologies. 

Dictators, like kings before them, struggle to maintain their power bases as common women and men gain access to new ideas.

States that prevent the new communications are being left behind scientifically, culturally, and economically.

Arab Spring

In Egypt, Libya, Syria, Morocco and other places we witness a revolutionary wave of protests threatening authoritarian power structures.  Traditional conservative order is being confronted by new progressive, liberal masses.  A wave of democratic revolution is sweeping northern Africa and the Middle East.  Using civil resistance or out right warfare, common people are overthrowing centralized power and trying to institute more democratic forms of social order.

These revolutions are highly enabled by new communication technologies.  Individuals are able to broadcast to each other, bypassing centralized and controlled broadcast technologies.

A parallel to medieval Europe’s revolutions is not difficult to see.  Information has become more widely available and more easily transferred between people.  What was before hidden or secret is now open and shared.

By speaking with each other directly, it is now possible for individuals to group together in ways that were impossible before. 

Social media is a breeding ground
for meme reproduction
As libraries in the renaissance made information widely available, the internet has made meme transmission and reproduction highly fluid.  Like water, memes flow into open minds.

Not all progressive is good.  Some nations or groups of people want to return to medieval social orders, thinking their sacred texts or Sharia should become law of the land.  Entrenched hatred between tribal groups is causing some lands to experience genocide. 

The communication technology is neutral.  As with previous information revolutions, bad ideas and good ideas compete in people’s minds.

It took Europe centuries to work out the effects of printing presses upon their societies.  Conflicts raged back and forth with one side winning and then losing and then winning again. 

We should expect nothing different in our current turmoil, brought on by these new set of information technologies.  New stable systems of order will not appear overnight.  The first change will not be the last change enabled by new technologies.  Sometimes things will go backward before moving forwards.

There are peaceful ways to engage
in meme warfare
Taking Sides in Meme Wars

Meme’s that are factual have a slight edge on those that are not.  Reality will intrude upon ideas.  Facts do not always win in battles between memes.  Events in physical reality will be driven by struggles between ideas.

Bad ideas that take root in minds and are spread widely can lead to disastrous consequences.  The Taliban’s treatment of women, suppression of free thought in Iran, and genocide in Rwanda are examples of bad meme’s spreading resulting in  harm.

External minds have a role to play in internal conflicts between memes.  Deciding which ideas we wish to support and those which we wish to combat is necessary for coordinated action. 

More stable societies may be able help those in turmoil by supporting positive memes. Engaging in meme warfare for minds will happen.  To fail to become involved will allow memes that threaten us to prosper.  While violence may sometimes be necessary, the larger battle front is in the minds of humans. 

Powerful change can be made in the world by crafting and reproducing memes that change minds.  Meme creators should be aware of how memes conflict and reproduce inside human brains.  Crafting ideas that will overcome immune systems, take root, then reproduce is necessary in order to wage war upon memes.

In part 7 of Meme Wars we effects of a new meme landscape on science and commerce.

Meme WarsPart 1 - Part 2 - Part 3  - Part 4 - Part 5Part 6Part 7

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