Memetics can benefit substantially from the use of physical analogies. In this case, think of ideas as particles. In another post I mentioned the potential for the meme particle to have something like and “electric charge” or polarity. Now think more of velcro and tennis balls. You are running around a room full of tennis balls wearing a velcro suit. Or perhaps a more reasonable example – running through a forest wearing a fleece vest. The idea is that you may randomly encounter ideas that either stick with you or don’t. We are the beer pong ball that flies around the room and pics of random pieces of dust (ok, no more analogies) Here are the points that we get out of these examples:
1) Frequency matters: The more you are exposed to an idea the more opportunities there are that it will “stick”. This is why temperature forces many chemical reactions. Advertisers know this well and seek to get logos and jingles high exposure so that they stay in the minds of consumers. This is the “probabilistic” aspect.
2) Context matters: Some songs you like simply because of what was going on in your life when you heard them. The features of the brain in which the idea will stick can change, but these either create a receptive space for memes or not. Our general impressionability changes with age, mood, amount of sleep, peer pressure etc.
To tie these three together let’s go back to the analogy of running through the woods. If you’ve ever gone off the trail you have undoubtedly come back with burrs. These will represent the ideas. The frequency factor is easy to imagine as the number of branches you encounter. Context can be understood as the clothes you were wearing at the time. If you’re wearing a fleece or a wind breaker you will have different ability to capture and retain the burrs. At some points in our lives we are more receptive to remembering or adopting new ideas.
Advertisers can use these principles not just to get our attention, but to create the right association at the time.
The reason these factors are good to identify is that they have good correlations to physical, model-able principles. Thermodynamic models can take into account particle impacts, and ability to bind. A biological example is something like the amount of neurotransmitter released to trigger an effect. The more successful impacts that exist with an idea, the more ingrained it will be in our heads. While these are simple principles they move us closer to a computational model of memetics.