26C3 - 26C3 1.15

26th Chaos Communication Congress
Here be dragons

Aaron Muszalski
Day Day 3 - 2009-12-29
Room Saal2
Start time 23:00
Duration 01:00
ID 3570
Event type Lecture
Track Society
Language used for presentation English

Weaponizing Cultural Viruses

A Manual For Engaged Memetic Resistance on The Front Lines of The Culture Wars

What does it mean to fight a culture war? How does culture propagate through a population? What is a meme? And why are some cultural memes more virulent than others? As the capitalist corporate monoculture further asserts its global hegemony, it is vital that individuals become more skillful in their resistance to it. In a hyper-connected world, the most powerful vector of resistance is that of memetics, the core unit of cultural belief. A culture war is, fundamentally, a memetic war.

Thus the modern revolutionary must learn to intentionally engineer memes that can not only survive in competition with those of the dominant culture, but thrive. Hackers, already adept at identifying and leveraging vulnerabilities in computer systems, are the ideal candidates to identify and exploit the memetic vulnerabilities of cultural systems.

This talk will explore memetic viral engineering as a mechanism for cultural change. Specifically, how such cultural viruses can be most effectively weaponized by crafting their content not only to maximize the rate of infection, but subsequent retention and integration. This conversion of the transmitted meme into mass action is the primary aim of revolutionary memetics.

A basic introduction to memes and memetic theory will be presented. The difference between a classic Dawkins/Blackmore meme and an Internet meme will be clarified, and their relationship in the context of memetic resistance will be explored. Basic virology will also be introduced, as it will be used as the primary (though not sole) analytical metaphor.

Key mechanisms of memetic transmission will be identified and a simplified model of memetic valuation will be introduced. Strong and weak vectors of memetic infection will be discussed, as will the concepts of memetic progenitors and domain crossover. Memetic immune systems will be analyzed, and potential exploits explored. Inflection points - places where small pushes have large impacts - will be introduced, along with methods for their identification. The need for meme-splitting will be explained, and prime memetic candidates for metastasizing hacker/maker culture will be identified. The immediate benefits and the long-term advantages of such an effort will be discussed. The use of digital communication systems in memetic warfare will be explored, both as testbeds (e.g., Twitter as memetic petri dish) and as infection vectors.

The potential of memetic resistance against monolithic power structures such as global corporatism and religious fundamentalism will be assessed. The semantics of memetic resistance will be discussed, particularly in the context of contemporary propaganda systems, such as the United States' "Global War on Terror". Illuminating historical and cultural references will be cited, humorous anecdotes will be told and, in the laughter that follows, a fleeting glance between two members of the audience will lead to a vigorous stand-up shag in the nearest IDF closet, and the two will go on to become iconic revolutionary agitators who bring down too-proud nations worldwide, as well as a significant portion of the network in the Congress Center.