Twitter Mind Virus

[Replicated without mutation from @Outsideness]

The simplest twitter mind virus simply says “retweet me”. No one expects epidemic virulence from that (or even from “retweet me please”).

What the twitter mind virus ‘wants’ is propagation of the replication strategy. Communication extraneous to that is a supplementary payload.

Expect twitter mind virus to begin training its users — were that not to happen, basic Darwinian assumptions would be called into question.

Twitterverse population should be increasingly dominated by twitter mind virus adapted to controlling users to spread more mind virus.

“Retweet me” (or “Click Retweet”) is the twitter mind virus core command, variously coded, for efficiency rather than user intelligibility.

November 20, 2013admin 11 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Contagion


11 Responses to this entry

  • Bryce Laliberte Says:

    Have you read Existence by David Brin? If not, I would recommend it. It has a key premise concerning memetic contagion, and how it may cause the hyperventilation, and death, of societies.


    admin Reply:

    I’ll look out for it, thanks.


    Posted on November 20th, 2013 at 3:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • Grotto Says:

    An associated phenomena is the ascendancy of snark in twitter. A twitter argument is essentially won when you can posit a 140-character attack than cannot be successfully answered in 140-characters.

    The dominant strategy tends to be an insurgent, devil-may-care, asshole persona, that cares little about persuasion or building an argument. The net effect is an intellectual jamming system, where any honest, good-faith interlocutor is rendered ineffective by overwhelming them with minimal-effort snark that would require far more energy to rebut decisively.


    nydwracu Reply:

    Denotation withers to nothing in the face of exosemantics. Politics instrumentalizes into fashion. Democratic rational irrationality is a tragedy of the commons: one only defects when one has nothing to lose. This is made worse by the demand of the American civil religion that everyone vote and therefore have reasoning (whether opinion-based or merely thedish) on which to vote.


    Posted on November 20th, 2013 at 8:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    Twitter viruses, like biological ones, are both encouraged, but also ultimately constrained and extinguished, by the external environment and changing host receptivity / immunity from exposure. They come and go in booms-and-busts, like any news-cycle meme.

    Every virus able to spread even once by definition contains some kind of ‘copy me in them’ coding, but the coding is universal and not sufficient in itself to preserve perpetual propagation.

    Consider the common cold – all variations on the same theme. It starts, it gets copies a few times, it goes epidemic and pandemic, and then … it dies out entirely. So utterly entirely, in fact, that infants that do not receive any in vivo maternal immunity will still never come down will old colds unless they were cryo-preserved and re-released by some fluke.

    Does not the news-cycle bear some resemblance. Does not the twitter cycle? Is this Kaus’ “Feiler Faster Thesis?

    So, just like the biosphere, one would expect twitter viruses to emerge, explode, and then disappear. Always using the same replication strategy models, but relying upon the host environment to break out.


    admin Reply:

    Although agreeing with (almost) all of this, it’s still important to note that the core replication machinery is preserved within a continuous lineage. Rhinoviruses do indeed ‘boom and bust’ — but they also have a distinctive identity that is not entirely extinguished (and rediscovered from scratch), but which enables them, in principle, to be traced back into deep biological time.

    Is the roughly 86-bytes of usable tweet code sufficient for the production of comparable lineages? Perhaps not, but if it is, we should expect to see a subtle cultural mutation occurring, as this abstract replicator cycle is honed and perpetuated.

    My provisional sense of things is that twitter provides something close to an optimal basic cultural weapon system, and that some attention to its intrinsic mechanics could therefore yield significant returns.


    David Reply:

    So here’s an instance where Chinese characters (or other character-based systems) function in a superior fashion, arguably, than the alphabetic system. More said in less space (weibo). Will English–or at least a Tweet-formed variant–continue to move toward compression via acronyms and icons and compressed new usages because Twitter? Long term rewiring via language-virus Twit mutation? One more way in which we may find ourselves becoming incrementally “more Chinese”? How’s that shape thought and possibilities arising therefrom? Death of one society birth of another? Eventual collapse into digitized technologically enabled telepathy? And/or ruin. Fun.


    admin Reply:

    Hanzi have greater information density, relieving constraints, but doesn’t this reduce the intensity of medium? I’m not sure it’s an obvious advantage.

    Posted on November 20th, 2013 at 11:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • nydwracu Says:

    Cf. new media business models.


    admin Reply:

    Unless you’re a ‘new media business’ you’re a prey animal.


    Posted on November 21st, 2013 at 3:09 am Reply | Quote
  • James Says:

    The ‘#’ identifies which bits of my behaviour should, and do, grant me a sense of status. These are legible and advertised to everyone. That makes an easy life for the busybody who finds handles to bring into line each intellectual community and movement.

    Because each hashtag is a few characters long, it’s unlikely that I would break the mould, unless I do #racism or #discrimination, which could only be ironic or doubleplusungood. And if sin is what is unnecessary, all the boasting about having done #this or gone #here is black as hell.

    The ‘@’ is domestication; I am a fixture ‘@’ this place. That means I see all the adverts to follow @MileyCyrus and @RussellBrand, and every day I’m noticing all the fingers that are crossed for #Libya. None of this is repulsive to me.

    P.S. Reading a book in today’s world is a revolutionary act.


    Posted on November 21st, 2013 at 4:54 pm Reply | Quote

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