(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 feedback.)

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 Flickr)

Random thoughts on emergent tags:

  • Emergent tags are a memetic phenomenon.
  • Emergent tags are powered by tipping points. 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 this.

What is Memetic Connectivity?

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

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 drive?)

(By the way, a google search for 'memetic connectivity' reveals only one match today (a previous mine where I use the term), and msn none).

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 micromedia 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 connectivity.

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 environment.

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