A x B x C x D = growth

In the section on the filters of the brain, where we covered how you implant a meme, we looked at the lifecycle of a meme.  Heylighen (1998) also sets out a way of calculating what we will call a 'success factor' for memes.  The 'success factor' is the number of copies of a meme in one generation divided by that in the preceding generation.  If the factor is greater than one, the meme will spread.  And it's very easy to calculate...

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Going viral

It seems the world is obsessed with 'going viral' and meme-driven marketing, but seemingly with little understanding of the conditions under which it occurs and why it breaks down.  

In this section I want to play with some ideas around viral growth using zombies and rumours.  In later articles in this section I look at what happens when you have competing memes in a saturated population. It might also be worth taking a look at the article on advertising saturation.

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When everyone believes: saturated populations

And what happens after the meme has 'gone viral'?  When everyone that is going to accept it, has done so?  It turns out the mathematics is fundamentally different, and fortunately for us it is even easier. This very simple model copes beautifully with competing memes.  This has profound implications where you are trying to get people to accept an idea, as you are in advertising, and here as in politics. 

Read more: When everyone believes: saturated populations