On emergent tags and memetic connectivity

(Warning, this is a highly unstructured, a
random-thoughts-externalized-type-post. I've been meaning to put down
on blogware something I've been thinking about for a while now,
something I call 'memetic connectivity', see below.  I might
develop this post further later, I might not. Look forward to your

Joshua Porter's
explains 'emergent tags'
, (a term I've not heard before);

"Closely related to the

popularity decay idea
is the idea of emergent tags. Emergent tags are
those tags that become more popular over time.

The interesting thing about emergent tags is that they’re rare, but
hugely valuable.

Why are they rare? Well, because human activity is slow to change: we
do a lot of the same things that we’ve always done. Therefore, tags like
“wedding” or “cameraphone” or “web” will be popular for a long time, because
those tags represent certain ideas that are central to many people’s lives
right now."

(The 'tags' referred to in this context are those used by folks like
Del.icio.us and

Random thoughts on emergent tags:

  • Emergent tags are a


  • Emergent
    tags are powered by tipping points.
    help explain why a tag transforms from being a rarely used tag -
    'competing' in an evolutionary sense against other similar tags - to a more
    popular tag (to become the dominant and standard tag of its category)
  • Over time, the speed at which a tag transforms from a rarely used tags
    to a popular tags is closely related the connectedness of us (powered by
    increased 'memetic connectivity', defined below). I have no data to prove

What is Memetic Connectivity?

How do we describe the state of the
connectedness of us,
enabled by networks, telecommunications, software, media, culture and memes

Memetic connectivity is a few things:

  • It is an attempt to describe and measure the increased or decreased
    state of cultures' connectedness over time (what is the rate of increase or
    decreased memetic connectivity?)
  • It aims to identify those forces that bring us or take away our
    connectedness (what drives increased or decreased memetic connectivity?)
  • What is affected by a more connected us (what does memetic connectivity

(By the way, a

search for 'memetic connectivity' reveals only one match today (a
previous mine where I use the term), and


Here are two scenarios to illustrate what I mean by memetic connectivity:

Scenario 1: Memetic Connectivity across cultures

Economically undeveloped parts of the world have little or no
communications infrastructure - no phones, no internet, no TV, little or no
media.  Members of cultures living in these disconnected cultural
pockets have little or no contact with the outside world and subsequently
have close to zero exposure to external memes circulating the planet. 
In this kind of environment it would take very long time for new
meme from outside of a
'disconnected culture' to be introduced to that culture.  This
disconnectednes between between one culture and another could be described
as one being of low memetic connectivity.

Scenario 2: Memetic Connectivity within cultures

The rate at which a meme can be 'adopted' is directly related to the
connectivity between individuals within a culture. Let's compare two large
sets of individuals to highlight the difference of this connectivity (within
smaller sets the dynamics are different, so I don't think this comparison
would hold).

  • Set A of individuals (lets say 200 people) has no tools to pass on
    information beyond word of mouth (I mean this literally).  The
    opportunities for a meme to be communicated from one individual to
    another is limited to the number of times those individuals meet and
    talk.  Therefore the rate at which memes can be propagated and
    adopted is low.
  • Set B is at the other extreme to Set A - they have mobiles phones,
    they blog, subscribe to each other's RSS feeds, they 'consume' mass and

    and use email.
    in such a highly connected environment there are many
    opportunities for memes to propagate from individual to individual and
    group to group.  These
    individuals are operating within an environment with high memetic

Memetic Connectivity breeds further Memetic Connectivity

Cultures that adopt social and political philosophies encouraging freedom of
thought, speech and ideas will more rapidly develop technologies that allow the
exchange of these ideas to occur more efficiently. Better communications
tools / infrastructure = higher memetic connectivity
.  This is a
virtuous circle.  The higher the memetic connectivity of an social and
cultural environment, the more likely those communication technologies are
likely to be improved upon (as ideas flow more freely this drives invention and
innovation), therefore further increasing the memetic connectivity of its

I'd like to write up more on this but the dentist beckons. Back to
reality...back later.

Comments (3)
  1. theCoach says:

    This should be the main story of WinFS — emerging data standards for different industries. Industries that need to interoperate will have to figure out ways to communicate with emerging standards, not enery client our there. If it works and is promoted properly, WinFS offers a phenomenal new path towards interoperable data.

  2. (Warning, this is a highly unstructured, a random-thoughts-externalized-type-post)

    First a quick definition:…

  3. This is a two part podcast with Joshua Porter . Part 1: 43mb, 45min Part 2: .46mb, 48min Joshua is a

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