John Mcreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Thu, 10 Feb 1994 18:10:08 JST

Dear Foss, dear Seeker, I for one love ya. To me you are to
ANTHRO-L what John Dvorak used to be to MacUser and
Robert X Cringely is to Infoworld: jesters who amuse and
enrage--and, yes, provoke some thinking when the mind is
threatening to seize up. Long may you carry on.

On Seeker's "wetware" and memes approach to culture, I
think Foss has the right idea. Especially if you find it
repulsive, don't you owe it to yourself to ask what it's
attractions might be? What world, values, social structures,
logic, etc. underlie and support it? If we do it for the people
whose cultures we study, can't we do it for each other? If
Geertz is right, and I think he is, and "We're all natives now,"
what warrants casual slams and dismissals that applied to
say, Nuer, Trobrianders or Navahos would instantly get us
labeled ethnocentric jerks and drummed out of the corps?

Returning now to Seeker's proposal-- "Memes," "schemes," the
words don't matter. What is at stake is the usefulness of
imagining people using computers/networks/digital technology
as a metaphor instead of steam engines (or biological
organisms, etc.). One apparent novelty in this approach is the
notion that "memes" (I'd just as soon call them "ideas")
propagate like computer viruses, working into and modifying
people's programs. This process has been conceptualized far
more precisely for computers and networks than say, social
interactionist models of the way social processes work.
Reverting to my favorite Berger-Luckmann Externalization-
>Objectification->Internalization model, this suggests some
new ways to conceptualize what's going on in the process of
Objectification and Internalization. In the long run they may
be useful, or they may be duds. I don't know, but I'm grateful
for the nudge that brought them together in my mind and
started me thinking about them.

"Making Symbols is My Business"--John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)