Let's climb back up the rabbit hole.
- Mind creates idea.
- Language transmits idea.
- Tweet transmits language.
- Twitter transmits tweet.
Language and technology make ideas perceivable to bodily senses: shareable memes.
Memes mediate minds together into inter-subjective networks. Here, ideas can develop in open-source fashion.
As memes, ideas are no longer constrained to one mind but can freely flow across minds and feed on their total combined brainpower. They evolve, mutate, mesh, integrate and compound into the big, complex ideas that submitted planet Earth to human culture and technology in what is known as the Anthropocene: the age of humans.
Memes are intersubjective LEGOs: they interlock into new, more complex memes. They rotate and integrate to co-create different meaning structures.
From the wheel LEGO are born chariots, bikes, cars, steering wheels, flywheels, wheels of fortune, spinning wheels, mills, pottery and more. Not a single part not imagined by a human mind.
"That's all a motorcycle is: a system of concepts worked out in steel. There's no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone's mind." — Robert Pirsig
The wheel LEGO never needs to be re-invented, but can be re-used and re-mixed in ever-more complex configurations. Religion and ideology, too, network many story LEGOs together into complex narrative structures.
When memes dictate behavior with stories about what we should and shouldn't do, they create culture.
When memes imagine better ways to get more with less, they create technology.
Remixing happens naturally and continuously through mimesis.
Every time you see or hear an idea and pass it on, you'll change it somewhat. You twist, turn and blend with other ideas you have in mind. Out comes a derivative of the input — itself derived from what came before.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Sir Isaac Newton
Meme remixing follows from the brain's capacity for abstraction.
For metabolic efficiency, brains compress sensory data to its functional essence, then stored as memory. These memories are then imposed on new perceptions to quickly find meaning. This is how you can intuit flowers, watches and wine as "gifts" even if the objects look nothing alike. Physical differences are summarised away. Associations work the other way around: a glass of wine can mean blood of Christ, a toast and a cosy evening with friends.
The mind LEGOs is abstracted from a meaning structure to become a versatile building blocks for new ones.
Abstraction pulls ideas from media. Free from objective definition, they become intersubjectively fluid. Through mixing and matching with other contexts, concepts and objects, new meanings are born. Expressed outwardly, these become new memes.
By implication, ideas can never be entirely original.
The tweets you read today are far-flung, entangled mutations of mental models devised by the first humans. Perpetuated across time and space through minds of mimetic monkeys. Everything is a remix of a remix of a remix of a remix of a ...
"Even in literature & art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original. But if you simply try to tell the truth without caring how often it has been told before, you will, 9 times out of 10, become original without ever noticing it." — C.S. Lewis
Human civilisation accelerates because LEGO remixing compounds.
The more LEGOs (ideas), the bigger the surface area for new LEGOs (ideas) to integrate with. More LEGOs, more LEGO builders, more possibilities.
"Creativity is the art of concealing your sources." — C. E. M. Joad
Creativity — that which leads to something "new" — is mixing what we already know in novel ways that somehow work. It's a team sport humans can play across seas and centuries, thanks to language-unlocked collective imagination.
“We wear clothes other people make, we speak a language other people developed, we use mathematics other people spent their lives building. I mean, we're constantly taking things. It's a wonderful ecstatic feeling to create something and put into the pool of human experience and knowledge.” — Steve Jobs
Today's internet powers collective LEGO remixing at a scale and complexity unimaginable to writers, printers and radio/tv broadcasters. Thanks to intuitive software tools and instant data transmission, everyone connected can participate in real-time.
LEGO compounding shifts into higher gear when creativity invents new communication technologies. From speech to writing to printing to radio&tv to the web. With each invention, meme replication leaps by multiple orders of magnitude.
Memes invent technology. Technology scales memes.