Unrelated Thoughts

Poems that are not in The End of the Word as We Know It, by Wes Unruh

Tag Archives: memetics

meme expansion

the meme is growing. The online edition of The Art of Memetics is legitimately at the half-way point, with chapters 1-12 online and freely available. Handcoding the entire book is wreaking havok on my eyesight, so I’ll be taking a break to catch up on housework and reading. Enjoy! be sure to click on the ads if you’re just reading it for free though, I’ve worked my fingers into premature arthritis I tell ya…  Seriously, that’s all I’ve worked on for days now.  I’ve got a client who’s got me under an NDA so I can’t actually talk about that project at all, so …  between the adoption stuff and the book I’m converting into hand-coded SEO-tweeked html for your reading pleasure, and the adoption stuff I can’t really talk about without getting all weird and defensive, yeah…  doing great!

Right now I’m struggling to get through a bunch of projects, it will feel good to have something done, and shipped, and the space cleared for a new implementation.  In January I have space in an art show, so one of my tasks this month is preparing the pieces for that – I anticipate there will be a series of pieces for that show, and hopefully I’ll be able to complete it in time to have some of it online prior to the show itself.  More on that as I get around to it, and have a clearer idea how I’ll be presenting the media.  Plus specifics, too, like where and when the show will occur…


Integrated Social Marketing Templates

As a way to give back to all of you out there who’ve helped me along the way, I’ve put together a squidoo page where I give away these four templates, the core of what I use in my freelance integrated social marketing. Learning how to be effective online means learning how to present yourself in a networked environment. These tools can help you keep your story straight.

I fully intend to create a presentation or even video tutorial around these spreadsheets when I have the available time to do so.

a selection from The Art of Memetics

by edward wilson and me, wes unruh

Marketers, political organizers, and other social engineers are tracking, capturing, and controlling people right now. They track the marks you make, how you vote, the websites you visit, and where you spend your money. They know your timetables, they feed you the media you passively consume. Humanity was captured long ago by the meme of civilization, and ever since civilization has been working on humanity’s domestication. Domesticated animals are treated in a different manner than wild beasts. The emphasis shifts from finding and capturing individuals to managing and controlling the herd. The herders hand down schedules to determine in advance where the individuals will be, and when they’ll be there. They worry about tracking the herd in clusters, and as long as the individuals remain within the bounds they’ve set, they’ll overlook the intricacies of individual behaviors. It is only those who stray out from the edges of the herd that the herders send the dogs after the lone individual, although it’s important to realize in this metaphor that even the dogs the herders send out are domesticated. Domesticated animals are the most predictable of all, as even their strayings are predictable so the herders eventually forget how to cope with the truly unpredictable.

Understanding this as a metaphor for social engineering, we can begin to see that we do have the ability to exploit the conditions of our own captivity. As long as we appear to remain within the bounds of the herd we have a great deal of freedom in which to move, although should we move too quickly, the herders may be afraid of us starting a stampede. Still, so long as we know what signs they use to track us and what patterns they rely on to predict our behavior, we can remain invisible to them as individuals. Finally, should we pick our moment and leave the herd at a time when they are not watching for strays, we can escape the herd.

The Mayan control system is based on the principles of time-binding, based on calendars, festival days, and seasonal changes. Language, or at least the standard languages, are linear methods of time-binding, and increases the memory of a system while also effecting decisions any given system may influence. The high priests knew what affective states people would pass through, and the physical conditions that prevailed. The academic control factors now present rely on lab books for science, logbooks for navigation, ledgers for business accounting, and so on. Power is based in the faculty of prediction, in knowing where something is going to occur and when. Science reads its lab books, spots patterns, and makes predictions. Because the Mayan system was homeostatic the priest always knew what was going to occur, thereby wielding power over their society. We are still subject to this control system of time-binding, as we are still reliant on the clock and we consume media according to a broadcasting schedule. If anything, today’s work world is more finely sliced time-wise than the Mayan calendar ever could have been.

Only through the knowledge of the ruling class has tyranny ever been overthrown. The Jews would have never left Egypt if Moses hadn’t been raised as an Egyptian prince. The techniques of the persuaders and manipulators are needed if we are to free ourselves, if we are to understand how we are bound to the systems, the schedules, and the cast-iron personas imposed by our social roles. Ironically, the way to freedom is to use the tools of control on ourselves. This is why we must spy on our own actions, record our own activities, look at our own patterns, and create our own predictions. We must select and censor what memes we are exposed to, whom we associate with, and learn to control our own behavior.

Of course, looking at life in this kind of metaphor for too long will probably trigger some paranoid ideations. It’s all too easy to fall prey to a ludic fallacy of viewing all of reality as a virtual space constructed by our patterning brains busy assembling fragmented signals and then filling in the gaps between the connections of our associative networks. As our conscious experience lags behind the events and actions of our lives, reality looks like an explanation made up after the fact. However, a certain amount of life-as-game analogy does open up enormous possibilities for triggering change in the world. As a friend of the authors says, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’

When attempting to effect changes on others using memetic techniques, there are many layers of organization you can concentrate on, and many different angles of approach you can use. You could look at the linear causative structure of narrative, or instead focus on the underlying network structure of association. You could work with the cognitive layers of thought and emotion, or instead focus on preconscious drives and desires. You could target the aggregate predictabilities of market segments or the specific peculiarities of individuals. Whatever you are attempting to accomplish, your signal should be fine-tuned to affect it’s audience on the precise layers you have targeted. Obviously, a communication meant to effect the drives and desires of a thirty-something accountant will be totally different from on targeting the style story being told in the teen market.

A meme needs to enter the human system by way of one of the senses. Its instructions must be encoded in a manner the nervous system can digest, and then act upon. For this we’ve looked to the quasi-scientific field of Neurolinguistic Programming and appropriated NLP’s representational systems of visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory channels. Most communication occurs beneath the layers of conscious thought because people are only able to be conscious of a certain percentage of the total sensory experience of any given moment in any given environment. Therefore, most of the information or input coming in along these various channels is being absorbed by the preconscious mind on a subliminal level.

This knowledge provides a few tricks for tweeking a meme’s capsid to be more easily ingestible and infective. We could begin by changing linguistic or non-linguistic cues to lead the potential receiver through a sequence of sensory modalities, essentially training them in what NLP practitioners term a ‘strategy.’ We could elicit a particular emotional state and anchor it to our message or symbols. We could communicate incongruently to transmit different messages to different parts of a large audience. We could use contradictory messages to trigger a disassociative and suggestible state in the potential receiver. Brainstorming on ways to manipulate or reframe a message can be facilitated through watching how a political candidate or speaker presents their platform to different audiences.

One’s position in an official system of governance is only one measure of that individual’s political power. The totality of that individual’s power can be figured by examining the lines of communication they can access and their ability to predict responses and reactions to their various transmitted signals along those communication lines. The overall political power of the individual then would be an estimate of that individual’s influence over the system of governance as a whole. This amount would change over time regardless of their official position in reference to the signals sent out by that individual or by other components of the system in relation to that individual’s signals. This angle of viewing provides a different account of politics than the textbook depiction of governmental structure given in a civics class, and emphasizes transmitted messages and their reception over institutionalized chains of command.

Personal messages motivate action more than impersonal ones, but what criteria should you use to determine if a message is personal or impersonal? If your message carries triggers for personal feelings and emotional involvement, the receivers may react to it as a personal message even if it is delivered by a broadcast medium such as network television. This explains, in part, the power of someone like Oprah. She communicates the message that she relates to people personally along with every other message she may send, and helps explain why a book she mentions or discusses on her show becomes a bestseller. The message that reaches millions of people feels like the recommendation of a close friend, even thought the vast majority of her viewers will never meet, or even see, Oprah in person.



I’ve noticed that my name has come up in a conversation one of my old roommates seems to have sparked. Yes I’m a real person, and like all people, I am made up of a confluence of selves, one of the more vocal self being the ‘angry adoptee’ – hence my occasional coverage on alterati of adoptee politics, issues, and themes. As for the ‘collective’ reference, it’s something of a result of pondering endlessly psychic and emotive states, personality in flux, ego, archetypal energy, etc. et. al, but I don’t know that I feel like defending myself.

I’m not playing an arg, but I’ve been writing a non-linear exploded novel for some time now, called Memwar – the timeline was the final post at the (now defunct) information virus this year, as I’ve finished the primary research for the book (or more accurately, books) in January. Currently I’m working on a small portion of the overall paradigm within which Memwar occurs, but Edward and I are just calling it non-fiction. Calling it secular magick wouldn’t be far off the mark, as it’s our intention to provide an academic, albeit subjective, approach to influencing and manipulating probability, and to do so according to intentional goals. That’s not the sort of magic you’re going to find in Thomas Barret’s work but it’s a kind of magic all the same, and after reading Kirk Packwood’s book I’m convinced we’re going to be covering a fairly broader range in terms of blending memetics with magic.

It’s an attempt to craft a grimoire from the post-modernist texts Edward and I have read, along with the weird underlying concept of Masterminding that runs throughout entrepreneur culture, while combining the underlying conceits of memetics and marketing. And to do so in such a way that accurately reflects our expectations and understanding of the paradigm shift engendered by the conscious social network that’s being assembled now. A selection is now publicly available here.

I’ve also finished an interview with Jessica DelBalzo, the author of Unlearning Adoption, and that interview will be going up shortly. Last week there was so much compounded crazy shit going on in the news that I felt like my head was going to explode, so this week I’m writing about a film and some books for alterati. The book Unlearning Adoption was a tremendously solid argument against adoption as it’s currently practiced in our culture. Watching the way in which DelBalzo is educating and spreading these ideas is interesting, because, as she says in the upcoming interview, this really is an outsider perspective.

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