The Journal of Memetics-Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission (JoM-EMIT) is an international, peer-refereed, scientific journal. It is intended as a forum for academics and professionals to discuss their research on the spread of information from an evolutionary point of view.
The journal is published on the web without subscription fee, proposing two issues per year since 1997 (see the history. Since 2005, the journal is edited by Francis Heylighen, assisted by the managing editor Klaas Chielens. The general policy is determined by the editorial and advisory boards, including many of the experts in the domain.
Subject Domain: Memetics
In the words of of its inventor, Richard Dawkins, the word "meme" refers to "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation". More precisely, a meme can be defined as an information pattern, held in an individual's memory or in an outside artefact (e.g. book, record or tool), which is likely to be communicated or copied to another individual's memory. Examples of memes are ideas, technologies, theories, songs, fashions, and traditions. This covers all forms of beliefs, values and behaviors that are normally taken over from others rather than discovered independently.
Memetics is the theoretical and empirical science that studies the replication, spread and evolution of memes. It core idea is that memes differ in their degree of "fitness", i.e. adaptation to the socio-cultural environment in which they propagate. Because of natural selection, fitter memes will be more successful in being communicated, "infecting" a larger number of individuals and/or surviving for a longer time within the population. Memetics tries to understand what characterizes fit memes, and how they affect individuals, organizations, cultures and society at large.
The memetic perspective is complementary to the traditional social science perspective, which focuses on the characteristics of the individuals and groups communicating rather than on the characteristics of the information being communicated. This does not imply a "memetic reductionism", which would deny individual control over what you communicate. It just notes that in many cases the dynamics of information propagation and the ensuing evolution of culture can be modelled more simply from the "meme's point of view" than by analysing the conscious or unconscious intentions of the communicating agents.
Aims and Scope of the Journal
JoM-EMIT seeks to develop the field of memetics, and more generally to investigate the evolutionary mechanisms that determine the propagation of information within a population of human, animal or artificial agents. This general problem can be approached from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, economics, psychology, linguistics, biology, anthropology, complex systems, and computer science. JoM-EMIT particularly welcomes cross-disciplinary perspectives, where e.g. biological analogies are applied to understand cultural evolution, or computer simulations are used to model the spread of languages.
However, in spite of its roots in evolutionary biology and computer simulation, we see memetics in the first place as a (new type of) social science, focusing primarily on the spread of information within human society. We therefore particularly welcome approaches that integrate memetic ideas with observations, concepts and methods from the social sciences and humanities, rather than being restricted to formal models that have little connection with the behavior of real individuals, groups or cultures.
The topics addressed by the journal include, but are
not restricted to, the following:
- Empirical observation, e.g. of the spread of institutional structures, theories, ideas, fads, or prejudices in social groups or communities.
- Experimental approaches, e.g. from simple manipulation of story elements to test which ones are best transmitted from person to person, to complex interventions such as trying to influence a online forum community with specific input.
- Case studies, e.g. of the historical diffusion of a particular chain letter, legend, scientific principle, invention, or religion.
- Computer simulations, e.g. of the dynamics of information propagation among agents.
- Mathematical models of the dissemination and evolution of knowledge, culture and information.
- Theoretical analyses, aimed at clarifying fundamental concepts and mechanisms and developing solid foundations for the field of memetics or adjacent fields.
- Philosophical and scientific implications of the memetic perspective, e.g. for epistemology, consciousness, or the origin of the human mind.
- Practical applications, e.g. in marketing, management, public education, or combating the spread of dangerous habits or rumors.