Robert Paterson's Radio Weblog
What is really going on beneath the surface? What is the nature of the bifurcation that is unfolding? That's what interests me.

UPEI - The Immune System and Memes


You raise a fascinating question Brandon - Is resistance

to new ideas also a natural thing?



Important Ideas that shape our world view are called

"Memes" We have an idea immune system as well as a

biological immune system. And for the same reason. If

new world view ideas came in every week, we would live

in chaos all the time pulled from one idea to another.

This idea immune system is built not just in one

individual but is more importantly a societal construct.

The new idea has to get critical mass of acceptance in

society to become a new world view. It has to struggle

in a Darwinian sense for survival.


Ok lets get out of theory for a minute and take a simple

example. Fashion - Most younger women today are wearing

low cut jeans with the belly button exposed. This is

part of the accepted look right now much to my

enjoyment. How does a look - or meme - get accepted by

most people?


Society is itself structured on a gradient of people

starting with a very small group who are very

adventurous and will try anything new. The next group,

larger, are those that need to be cool or who have

influence over others - opinion leaders who are well

connected -  who if they adopt will influence the mass

which is the mainstream. And then at the end are a small

group who never want to change.


If you are selling anything you need to understand this

gradient. You never sell something genuinely new to the

mainstream at first. They never move first on a really

new item. You may claim to be selling the new improved

Tide, but it is the same old stuff and is sold by using

a housewife who seems to live for laundry (a perfect



To sell the new - you have to get the interest of the

adventurous - many agencies now employ "cool hunters" to

see the new trends in this group. If the adventurous

wear the new look, it maybe will be taken up by an icon

such as a film start or a singer or by what is called a

connector or a maven. Connectors are those of us who

have large networks and mavens have reputations for

knowing stuff (your friend that you ask about technology

or clothes) The Book the Tipping Point by Malcolm

Gladwell is excellent about this whole process. Then the

mainstream see that this is OK and they pick it up.


The same for technology. When the DVD comes out there

are few DVDs and the machines cost $2,000. Only the

adventurous buy. More DVDs appear in the stores and the

price of the machine goes to $1,000. The trend setters

buy. More DVDs are in the shops and the price falls to

$500 and everyone has to have one.


World view ideas are more challenging to get adopted

than fashion or technology. The Tricky thing about world

view ideas is that most of don't even know we have them.

We are in the Matrix. The Matrix is a very subversive

film series which I love. The Agents can be seen as the

operative aspects of a meme immune system. Societies

punish new dangerous ideas that threaten the existing

world view. Why? Because when you change a world view

you threaten an identity. People have to give up who

they were which is like dying. This explains why the

fishermen are so pissed off - their identity and their

community is being killed off.


In medieval times you could be burnt at the stake for

such new ideas and many were. Today as a scientist you

will not get published or tenure if you have an idea

that threatens the conventional way of seeing things.

Today as a rebel in a large organization like me you

will be forced out if you talk about ideas that concern

leadership. Meme changing is a serious business that is

played for keeps.


As in the Matrix, you have to create a critical mass of

rebellion and you need leadership for world view

changing ideas. 15 years ago there was nothing in the

busines literature bout using natural models. Everything

was about engineering then - the last gasp of the

machine model. Now all the good books are talking about

using nature and networks as our guide,


These ideas can now be seen by most, like the DVDs in

the shop. After all we all use networks all the time -

the Internet, Interac and so on. Conventional businesses

are in deep trouble and the new network businesses are

seen increasingly as the winners - we are at the Tipping

Point for the meme that we are learning about in this


Previous Message

Next Message

 Previous Thread 

Next Thread




© Copyright 2003 Robert Paterson. Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.
Last update: 23/05/2003; 7:34:52 AM.