Disturbing the Universe

David L Clements, science and science fiction

Memetic epidemiology

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Back in august I tweeted a joke about copyeditors. It wasn’t original, it was passed to me by someone else.

Q. How many copyeditors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A. Do you mean replace or have sex in? Please clarify.

This tweet did rather well, and inside a month had been retweeted over 800 times. The rate of retweeting dropped off gradually and I thought this particular memetic storm had subsided.

But over the last couple of days, the infection has reasserted itself, with over 400 new retweets in just 2 days, and with people who were following me back in August apparently seeing it for the first time (were they hiding form the Olympics?). It’s as if some lurking spores of a memetic plague have reawoken and started to spread the disease once more.

If I knew more about the twitter API this might make an interesting study in network theory – I’m sure my colleague Tim Evans, who has looked at real world network topologies from eBay to the Bronze Age Aegean, would be amused.


Author: davecl

Astronomy, science, science fiction

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