A tentative numerical estimate on the speed of online memetic evolution
#1
Some basic assumptions I make:

(A) The emotes used on a given Discord server are generally a good 'proxy' for the memetic character of that online community, assuming a sufficiently low rate of memetic introgression from surrounding cliques.
(B) Swadesh's glottochronology generally holds up on online cliques, and that the graph-like nature of the web breaks down into something no more different than the pre-industrial past (The Web as a whole is probably closer to Barabasi-Albert type behaviour but online RW spaces are probably more Watts-Strogatz'y... either way)

On my personal Discord server, about 60% of the core emoji has been fairly naturally replaced since its inception in 2019. By plugging this into Swadesh's constant rate of replacement formula (That a language replaces 14% of its core vocabulary per 1000 years), we recover that approximately 6 millennia worth of semantic and memetic shift has occurred within the course of about 3 years. This means that it's feasible to say that online culture evolves at 200,000% the speed of offline culture.
#2
Possible future research direction would be to take a slice sample of various Discord servers and twitter GCs [with the condition that they're all fairly active and have a minimum posting frequency and a minimum growth rate, like maybe at least 10 messages per day and at least 1 new member every 3 or 4 months]. Then to scan from the channel's inception to the present seeing which emojis get used and seeing how quickly they rise and fall. Some servers might replace what emojis get commonly used faster etc.
#3
Does Swadesh's glottochronology account for the literacy level of a culture? Talking in a Discord is more like written correspondence than talking in real life, in both per-person quantity of output (Pareto-distributed) and nature of memetic introgression (larger scale of concern, with more "current events"). I'd expect the in-jokes and caprices of a small cloistered literati to mutate much faster than the lexicon of a large population talking as a matter of everyday life.
#4
(10-30-2022, 01:32 AM)Chud Wrote: Does Swadesh's glottochronology account for the literacy level of a culture? Talking in a Discord is more akin to written correspondence than talking in real life, both in per-person quantity of output (Pareto-distributed) and nature of memetic introgression (larger scale of concern, with more "current events"). I'd expect the in-jokes and caprices of a small cloistered literati to mutate much faster than the lexicon of a large population talking as a matter of everyday life.
True, maybe if you ran Swadesh's approach on 'small cloistered literati' linguistic corpora? Say, keep the diversity in terms of macro-families but maybe Japanese court poets from Heian til the Edo and Meiji, Jewish literature written in literary languages from ~1 AD until the 1500s, maybe emulated styles in Persia and India also; issue seems to be more that 'small cloistered literati' cliques are obviously few rather than thousands of normal spoken languages.
Me personally I think that I use Discord more than speaking orally in real life, and the topics I mention there are things that I imagine I would have said offline had the people I'd been speaking to also been offline and in a hypothetical 'village'.

On the note of Japanese poets, one thing that just came to mind was the coining, proliferation, and decline of four character idioms [which equally would apply to China too but maybe Japan is more 'linguistically stable' thanks to its insular status.]

If I were to paint a word picture, something that comes to mind is punctuated equilibrium with strong selective bouleversements and serial founder effects (think, say, disintegration and the disorganized shuffling of places like r/MDE and their exilees into permanently disconnected cliques). My server did have a kind of memetic founder effect.
#5
(10-30-2022, 01:40 AM)holebear Wrote: True, maybe if you ran Swadesh's approach on 'small cloistered literati' linguistic corpora? Say, keep the diversity in terms of macro-families but maybe Japanese court poets from Heian til the Edo and Meiji, Jewish literature written in literary languages from ~1 AD until the 1500s, maybe emulated styles in Persia and India also; issue seems to be more that 'small cloistered literati' cliques are obviously few rather than thousands of normal spoken languages.

The problem with running the model on these cultures is that they're deeply intentionally conservative, holding "proper" prose style, canned forms of composition (think the eight-legged essay), and memorization of millennia-old classics as their foremost intellectual values. This isn't a bad thing - until the advent of mass-media and information technology, it was the only to establish the common knowledge-base necessary for a literate elite - but it does stand in the way of attempts to track natural linguistic "drift". Not sure which historically isolated and hyper-literate population would be a better case study. Maybe New England Puritans?

(10-30-2022, 01:40 AM)holebear Wrote: Me personally I think that I use Discord more than speaking orally in real life, and the topics I mention there are things that I imagine I would have said offline had the people I'd been speaking to also been offline and in a hypothetical 'village'.

You are a sperg. In a hypothetical "village", you'd be strapped to the ducking-stool and drowned for failing to make sufficient eye contect.
#6
(10-30-2022, 02:04 AM)Chud Wrote: You are a sperg. In a hypothetical "village", you'd be strapped to the ducking-stool and drowned for failing to make sufficient eye contect.

I kill you, nigger.

(10-30-2022, 02:04 AM)Chud Wrote:
(10-30-2022, 01:40 AM)holebear Wrote: True, maybe if you ran Swadesh's approach on 'small cloistered literati' linguistic corpora? Say, keep the diversity in terms of macro-families but maybe Japanese court poets from Heian til the Edo and Meiji, Jewish literature written in literary languages from ~1 AD until the 1500s, maybe emulated styles in Persia and India also; issue seems to be more that 'small cloistered literati' cliques are obviously few rather than thousands of normal spoken languages.

The problem with running the model on these cultures is that they're deeply intentionally conservative, holding "proper" prose style, canned forms of composition (think the eight-legged essay), and memorization of millennia-old classics as their foremost intellectual values. This isn't a bad thing - until the advent of mass-media and information technology, it was the only to establish the common knowledge-base necessary for a literate elite - but it does stand in the way of attempts to track natural linguistic "drift". Not sure which historically isolated and hyper-literate population would be a better case study. Maybe New England Puritans?

Did Puritans write a lot? I imagined them as being pretty philistine in terms of their literary output but I may mistaken. I do think that there's still a lot of emulation that happens these days but of course I'm not sure if it's as self-conscious as people emulating poets in China. A lot of tweets follow certain templates if you look carefully.

The one that comes to mind who are able to permutatively create gigachad dialogues which aren't particularly memorable but aren't particular objectionable or otherwise breaking of the format. Spats on twitter also generally follow a predictable responsa form.
#7
Really interesting even though I'm not well versed at all in the field this is in. I wonder if what we perceive as "cringe" is just an emotional reaction to a long gone predecessor to a modern language, the same as one may *physically* cringe while trying to decipher an Old English text?
#8
(10-30-2022, 05:56 PM)Verl Wrote: Really interesting even though I'm not well versed at all in the field this is in. I wonder if what we perceive as "cringe" is just an emotional reaction to a long gone predecessor to a modern language, the same as one may *physically* cringe while trying to decipher an Old English text?
It's a really rough estimate; Swadesh's own methodology draw a lot of criticism and there are a lot of asterisks attached to it; for instance the existence of widely divergent languages amongst IE from the most conservative Baltic languages to the highly innovative Tocharian and Celtic lects seem to call into question constant rate of replacement [viz. the assumptions of the Hardy-Weinberg principle to get a feel for the narrow nature of where Swadesh glottochronology might apply?]
With respect to cringe, it's probably more productive to view it in terms of whatever newest idea I've come across these days [which is Friston's free energy principle], in that with the Old English text, assuming you can cleanly reverse most of the non-destructive sound changes you are still left with a lot of uncertainty with OE inflections [viz. asymmetric intelligibility wherein speakers of less inflected languages are better understood by the speakers of more inflected languages of similar extraction than the other way around. Danish vs. Swedish, Dutch vs. German, Modern English v.s OE too I would hazard to guess]-- and the uncertainty is conjunct to the discomfort you feel. Someone else can tease out what the line is between cringe and frustration.

"I don't understand free energy [yet] so don't ask me any questions about it, but it looks cool."

(10-30-2022, 12:02 PM)holebear Wrote: The one that comes to mind who are able to permutatively create gigachad dialogues which aren't particularly memorable but aren't particular objectionable or otherwise breaking of the format. Spats on twitter also generally follow a predictable responsa form.

Let me give an example of these respona templatures: one of these is 'based and X-pilled', which I just remembered browsing some of the threads here. Why was it necessary to expend so much text to express the simple feeling of acknowledgement (the mention of X out of a potentially longer post) and approval ('based'). There are probably dozens of other examples of these sorts of calling cards.
#9
(10-30-2022, 09:45 PM)holebear Wrote: Let me give an example of these respona templatures: one of these is 'based and X-pilled', which I just remembered browsing some of the threads here. Why was it necessary to expend so much text to express the simple feeling of acknowledgement (the mention of X out of a potentially longer post) and approval ('based'). There are probably dozens of other examples of these sorts of calling cards.

The frame of "based and X-pilled" is 17 characters and 4 morphemes. In that small space, it manages to convey:

- approval
- whimsy
- acknowledgement of X
- a sense of summarizing or "distilling" the essence of the post down to X
- informal speech register
- (sub)cultural affiliation

Which is pretty damn dense if you ask me.



I don't find any of "our thing"'s snowclones dreary or redundant. Even when the point is to poke fun at the abuse of language ("how could you tell", "no one understood", "a word of caution", butchered descriptors like "conceptual", "Winthropian", "Dorontabic"), the text never becomes cacophonous or unwieldy in the same manner as "marginalized land acknowledgement sustainable future" progtard press-release morpheme slurry. These spaces select for 1) Verbal IQ and 2) appreciation of intrinsic aesthetic value, and the lexicon reflects that.

* "based" is technically 2 morphemes but in the internet slang usage it isn't analysed as such
#10
It's hard to find publicly accessible literature on speed of language change or memetic evolution, but I think it's fair to say that discord emotes are a bad proxy. I would propose to identify specific phrases that are associated with an internet meme (eg "over 9000") and plot the frequency of occurence over time, in different mediums. The control should be some irl inside jokes in friend groups, as well as the same joke in group chats.
My guess is that internet meme change is not faster than offline, but that internet culture has strong preference for short-lived memes.
#11
What about Google Trends?

Also here is a relevant autistic chart I made related to this.
[Image: https://i.imgur.com/nNRkMrK.jpg]

I made this image to demonstrate one particular point: that the rise, fall, and evolution of memes fits patterns similar to that of cycles of prehistoric life. We see explosions of a certain memetic progenitor, that then diversifies to fill various niches, then it becomes old and unfashionable so it goes extinct, and a new meme diversifies to fill this new niche. We can see Pepe like the dinosaurs, and Wojak like mammals. Pepe used to dominate, filling many niches, whereas Wojak had one niche (being sad, suffering, >tfw posts). But then Pepe became too politicized, too associated with "our thing," and so Wojak diversified and evolved to fill the new niches. Pepe still survives, but in smaller, more specific niches, and in forms rather unfamiliar to an older poster (e.g. Apu Apustaja, Groyper, etc.).
#12
(11-03-2022, 09:04 AM)JohnnyRomero Wrote: I made this image to demonstrate one particular point: that the rise, fall, and evolution of memes fits patterns similar to that of cycles of prehistoric life. We see explosions of a certain memetic progenitor, that then diversifies to fill various niches, then it becomes old and unfashionable so it goes extinct, and a new meme diversifies to fill this new niche. We can see Pepe like the dinosaurs, and Wojak like mammals. Pepe used to dominate, filling many niches, whereas Wojak had one niche (being sad, suffering, >tfw posts). But then Pepe became too politicized, too associated with "our thing," and so Wojak diversified and evolved to fill the new niches. Pepe still survives, but in smaller, more specific niches, and in forms rather unfamiliar to an older poster (e.g. Apu Apustaja, Groyper, etc.).

Applying [paleo]anthropological methods to internet culture is a wellspring of high-brow amusement.

[Image: https://i.ibb.co/3TMb07T/wojak-phylogenetic-tree.jpg] [Image: https://i.ibb.co/FBjtxMQ/troll-face-woja...nction.jpg]

These are funny but miss the mark; a better analogy would be fossils and geographic strata.

- The lifetime of a meme is a place-dependent; isolated, conservative cultures (e.g. 7chan) are refuges where archaic species persist long after they're extirpated from the mainland.
- The rate of "sediment accumulation" varies wildly and is related to posting frequency; however it varies significantly based on the site's culture and structure. 4chan and Reddit are both veritable fire-hoses of posting, but Reddit accumulates "layers" faster due to its persistence.
- A meme with particular expressive potential can undergo "adaptive radiation" to a myriad of niches. The "derived" memes are more specialized than the "basal" ones, and are more likely to die out when the environment changes. e.g. the explosion of wojak and soyjak variants.

A cogent analysis will also have to take cultures into account; a myopic focus on just the memes is very "pots-not-people".
#13
(11-03-2022, 03:41 PM)Chud Wrote: These are funny but miss the mark; a better analogy would be fossils and geographic strata.

- The lifetime of a meme is a place-dependent; isolated, conservative cultures (e.g. 7chan) are refuges where archaic species persist long after they're extirpated from the mainland.
- The rate of "sediment accumulation" varies wildly and is related to posting frequency; however it varies significantly based on the site's culture and structure. 4chan and Reddit are both veritable fire-hoses of posting, but Reddit accumulates "layers" faster due to its persistence.
- A meme with particular expressive potential can undergo "adaptive radiation" to a myriad of niches. The "derived" memes are more specialized than the "basal" ones, and are more likely to die out when the environment changes. e.g. the explosion of wojak and soyjak variants.

A cogent analysis will also have to take cultures into account; a myopic focus on just the memes is very "pots-not-people".

All very insightful and wise. Perhaps the best approach might be to keep in line with the original meaning of the word "meme" as coined by Dawkins, i.e. a social/mental gene, or to the noosphere what the gene is to the biosphere or the chemical is to the geosphere. Studying them as genes that are spread through populations, mutate in various different ways, and are selected for or against depending on the environment (i.e. the culture & moderation of the website). For example, the wojak divergences were not random - the wojak meme mutated into various nujak variants which were highly successful in normgroid ecosystems (i.e. mainstream social media), whereas on 4chan it was the soyjak allele (still present in nujak images, which in this context may be seen as equivalent to the protein which the gene codes for) which mutated, diversified, and was highly successful, due to the harsh and ever-changing environment of 4chan (equivalent perhaps to a dense, dark jungle) strongly selecting a meme that is both highly caustic/competitive and adaptable in its expression.

So, in short:
  • Meme (i.e. the idea that spreads) = Gene
  • A particular image (vulgarly called "a meme") = A particular protein or trait which is coded for by one or more gene(s)
  • Website = A particular ecosystem or biome
  • Userbase = The population of an ecosystem
  • Communities/Sub-Groups within a Userbase = The particular species within a population, which each fill different niches (e.g. the troon/lefty as prey and the soyjak/gigachad-replying right-winger as predator)
  • Moderators & Meatspace Social Pressure = Factors outside of the biosphere that put pressure on evolution, e.g. weather, diseases, natural disasters, etc.
#14
(10-30-2022, 12:03 AM)holebear Wrote: On my personal Discord server, about 60% of the core emoji has been fairly naturally replaced since its inception in 2019. By plugging this into Swadesh's constant rate of replacement formula (That a language replaces 14% of its core vocabulary per 1000 years), we recover that approximately 6 millennia worth of semantic and memetic shift has occurred within the course of about 3 years. This means that it's feasible to say that online culture evolves at 200,000% the speed of offline culture.

Core vocabulary of a language is much larger than core emojis of a discord server. What you say might be feasible, but its feasible only for a trivial reason. It would be the same if you focused on any minute aspect of culture, like "pottery designs", since the size of the cases that can change is smaller than culture overall.

Furthermore, a change in core emojis does not represent a change in overall memetic culture of a discord server. Your assumption that "the emotes of a discord server are a good proxy for its memetic character" is true because the emotes are derived from the culture, not the other way around. The emotes are not the memetic culture itself. Therefore it is possible, and it is usually the case, that a change of emotes is just an addition of novel emotes that reflect the same culture.
#15
Quote:
(10-30-2022, 02:04 AM)Chud Wrote: You are a sperg. In a hypothetical "village", you'd be strapped to the ducking-stool and drowned for failing to make sufficient eye contect.

I kill you, nigger.

Best part of this thread.

Please write with more emotion, everyone.  I think we can get something special going.
#16
(Yesterday, 08:34 PM)casual rapist Wrote:
Quote:
(10-30-2022, 02:04 AM)Chud Wrote: You are a sperg. In a hypothetical "village", you'd be strapped to the ducking-stool and drowned for failing to make sufficient eye contect.

I kill you, nigger.

Best part of this thread.

Please write with more emotion, everyone.  I think we can get something special going.

Don't tell me what to do, faggot, and especially don't try to do so with a meek "please, everyone!" or else I will find you and turn you from a casual rapist into a full-time rape victim.



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