Can An Idea Virus Infect And Kill An Industry?


There’s a documentary coming out about hope, fear, and digital culture. I’m sure anyone reading this can relate to the aforementioned. Life is constantly changing. What does the future hold for us? Will technology’s evolution help expedite the demise of ‘humanity’ or will we use it to cultivate a movement reversing the mess that we’ve made of this planet?

In this clip from PressPausePlay, Seth Godin discusses rethinking previous attempts at publishing, then by simply using his laptop and internet connection to give away an e-Book, he ended up making more money then he had with his previous best seller.


  1. It was kind of vague but the vagueness is what made it intriguing. I’m going to be looking for this documentary. I don’t think ideas destroy industries as much as they create new ones. All the industries we have now were ideas.

  2. Nope, not at all. Memetics is “cool” but it’s just reification — taking an abstract concept and treating it like a concrete reality.

    When memes first showed up as a meme, it wasn’t even a metaphor, just a suggestion from biologist Richard Dawkins, who has moved on to a career in being really mean to religious people.

    It’s pretty clear to most observers that something like a meme is at work in the transmission of concepts and ideas and customs from human to human. This is why so many books have been written on the subject (many of them by Godin) despite the lack of any workable theory — the author can build a case off anecdotes about ideas spreading like wildfire, make general observations about the patterns, and then wrap it up with a grandiose conclusion. In the meantime, they haven’t added much of anything to the discussion.

    So no, there is no risk of a non-existent concept killing a real, nuts-and-bolts physical industry. Disruptive technology can do that, but that’s not a meme or an idea virus, that’s physical nuts-and-bolts technology.

    Questions I’d like to ask anyone who’s “into” memes…

    a. What is the core component of memetic transmission? Is there one?

    b. What is the smallest possible memetic unit? How short can the message be and still retain it’s potency?

    c. To what extent is the meme associated with the host language? Are memes made of language, or does language exist to “carry” memes? Are English memes and Chinese memes functionally the same?


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