You can take humans out of their tribe,
but you can't take the tribe out of humans

"Everything has now changed, except our way of thinking."

                             Albert Einstein

"Prediction is very hard, especially when it is about the future."

                      Yogi Berra

Dr. Gizmo as Art




Because the Meta-Gizmo web site represents my personal vision of the evolution of Internet culture, I have been asked many questions about it, and this article is a quick meta-view of Internet culture.

It is very easy to speculate about advancement of Internet technology because these can be described with finite quantities, i.e. speed and bandwidth, but describing the revolution in human culture and the "new" human mind emerging from the Internet is much more difficult.

My fundamental assertion is that the Internet is a tool that has been created as a rebellion against the intrinsic alienation arising out of twentieth century's scientific/industrial mind. The ancient tribal meta-mind is re-emerging, and will be the architect of the next phase of the Internet.

Some will disagree and claim that Internet technology is the catalyst in the re-emergence of the meta-mind. I, again, make the same argument about the creation of the printing press; this technology arose out of culture that was rebelling against the monopoly of knowledge. Please, don't get lost in the forest of Internet technology jive, because if you do you will miss all the millions of human minds who are rebelling against post Industrial scientific culture, and the alienation that it created.

Joseph Campbell emailed me from the Happy Hunting Ground this message:

"You can take humans out of their tribe, but you can't take the tribe out of humans"

To understand the next stage of the Internet revolution we must immerse yourself into the rich complexity of tribal culture, which is always better because it is always meta. To understand this next stage we must put on our dialectical thinking caps and get into the how the MYTHOS and LOGOS of every tribal culture interacts, and this means understanding the multi-dimensional emotional and social needs of humans.

Clearly a new style, a new vernacular, is being created, but slick graphics which are easily created by PC, can not be confused with the vast, and yet unrealized, potential of the Internet to transform human culture. Graphically slick web sites are not the art of creating a new BUSINESS CULTURE. This is the major challenge facing all corporations, and it will become more difficult because of the intensity of the creative energy that passionate individuals and "local" tribes are bestowing on their web sites. Can General Motors compete with a local "hot rod" club in expressing passion for the Chevrolet totem?




Tribal culture is hierarchical, and that means at the top of the tribe is a King (as metaphor or in person..and this could be a Martha Stewart)..and the core creative content is now King: the magnetic cultural resonance, the glue, the energy that arises out of the dialectic of the tribal MYTHOS and LOGOS.

Every tribe has a mythology, and that is true for religion as it is for a sports team. The mythos is a coagulation of all of the tribes archetype stories, from its creation myth, to its great battles, warriors and art. If there is any doubt in your mind of how this mythos applies to women just examine the "seasonal fashion" rituals and battles and billions of dollars spent by this industry to create "new myths" every season. I know I was a myth creator in this industry for almost two decades. Think about Harley-Davidson, World Wrestling Federation and the role of auto racing in the mythos of male tribes.

Logos is the facts, the nitty gritty details of culture, which are the infrastructure of culture, like baseball scores, "how to tie a fishing fly", "Which camshaft works best with the 283 Chevy motor", "Who will win the league championship", "How to make a wedding", or "How to Have a One Hour Big "O" the Cosmo Way".

The expression "God (mythos) is in the Details (logos)" means that once we have found our passion, our mythos, we are compelled to immerse ourselves in the tiniest details of our passion. This applies equally to lovers of motorcycles as it does to gardening, or golf, or knitting.

Those who are students of the human brain will recognize that the mythos and the logos are analogs of the right and left hemispheres. The Internet is, again, a rebellion against the alienation of these two very different modalities of cognition. In the ancient meta-mind the separateness of modern culture does not exist…everything is connected in a continuum wholistic experience.



Here is a simple way to cut to the chase, cheese and mustard about the process, the mechanism, of how the meta-mind works, and it is question: How was culture transmitted before population was literate, which is only in the last 150 years of 50,000 years of civilization? The answer is by telling stories and myths, which were replicated through culture from one person to the other. Joseph Campbell quick rise to popularity was due to the fact that he told us what we already know…myths have the power to live from generation to generation because the human mind operates on a viral principal.

In 1976, the geneticist Richard Dawkins, in his now famous book, The Selfish Gene, speculated on how culture evolves and replicates itself and he created the notion of the "meme", which rhymes with gene Because "meme" perfectly describe the mechanism of how tribal culture viruses through the Internet, it has become the "catch phrase of Internetologists:

"Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes,fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leading from body to body via sperm or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain.

Memes should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically. When you plant a fertile meme in my mind, you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme's propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell. And this isn't just a way of talking -- the meme for, say, 'belief in life after death' is actually realized physically, millions of times over, as a structure in the nervous systems of people all over the world".

Painful as it may be, everyone must put their web sites to the ultimate test: Has the web site become a meme; become a living cultural virus that moves through the Internet, jumping from meta-mind to meta-mind?

When we use the expression "sticky" to denote a web site that continuously draws surfers back to our sites, we are not going far enough…because the real question is, again, "Has the content of our sites become a living virus..and is jumping from meta-brain to meta-brain?"

But isn't this ancient marketing wisdom? Hasn't "word of mouth" been the key to success and failure of motion pictures, fashions, records, books, and all pop culture fads? Hasn't this been the test of all great advertising and marketing? The meta-mind of the Internet has accelerated and elevated this memetic process, and those who know how to play its music shall prevail.

You will note that I have created a section at the bottom of the this article with more information about memes.


I remind the reader that we are all carbon based bipeds whose DNA is 99% ape. As you know apes are the most social primates, which means when apes are not relating to their fellow apes they get very nervous, uncomfortable and unstable. Humans are just like apes, and apes live in tribes, and when I see a web site that has no humans, I wonder if humans created the site. This is exactly what the meta-mind rebellion is all about…"faceless" corporate culture; the glib without authentic human contact. Isn't this way "celebrity spokesmen" get paid big fees?

It naturally follows that consumers are humans who are fundamentally social animals that increasingly need to FEEL connected to a social group in a authentic and emotional satisfying way. The great satisfaction of being a member of a tribe, a fan, is that you are certain that are other humans out there that share your passion. WE ARE NOT ALONE. The Internet has made it possible for individuals to satisfy their most basic human need: to get connected to their like kind; their fellow tribe members; like-minded fans. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT TO APES AND HUMANS THAN BELONGING.


A web site is a theater of culture. Why do mega-budget Hollywood Blockbusters filled with the biggest stars often fail at the box office and micro-budget films with no-bodies become rages? This question is the challenge facing every company that is creating a web site. I look at big buck web sites and wonder what went wrong. Where is the juice, the passion, where is the music? Stupendous graphics, beautiful photography, the most costly special effects…but, more often than not, there is no music, just a bunch of notes strung together.

This reminds me of the case where a man or women goes out and buys the most expensive clothes, shoes and accessories and when it is all together, and they walk into the room, we know that they have no sense of style, and something is wrong, and they achieve exactly the opposite effect they desired.

This is a daunting problem because when it comes to style and taste, there is no numerical quantification…taste and style is.


You will notice how often I use the word "wholey" , "wholistic", and "wholosity" on the Meta-Gizmo web site. This is true because humans are whole; each of us has the complete human experience in us. Each of us, obviously, has all the rich dimension of a Shakespearean characters. Every human has the paradoxes, enigmas, of every other human, which are always expressed in culture. Here's an interesting one: America, the culture that created the notion of individual political rights, freedom of expression, was the only "civilized" country to support slavery.

Great nations, humans and web sites have great paradoxes…which explains why all entertainment and art is based on "characters". Humans have an insatiable curiosity about their fellow humans, and the most fascinating humans are those which reflect the wholosity of our shared humanity. Which brings me back to the meta-mind which is rebelling against the two dimensional portrayal of our humanity which dominated culture for the last fifty years. Here is an interesting question: Why is evil, violence, and the dark side of our humanity so fascinating and so dominates the entertainment business?


I presented to Macy's management, a revolutionary idea in the mid 1970s: the idea of putting television sets, that were playing entertaining video "sales" programs, on the store counters to make shopping more exciting. Many merchandise managers thought this was a very bad idea because it would distract shoppers. My point was that a brand was more than the merchandise, and who better to communicate that than the head of the brand tribe…and how better to communicate the richness of this culture then with a video which could employ all sorts of creative images, music and energy…that no salesmen could communicate. The first test was in the junior sportswear department, and the rest is history.

Your web site is your theater, it is your meta-world. It can express the wholosity of your culture, your brand, your business, and thereby become a meme, and thereby become your most effective way of reaching out and making contact with humans beings who are searching for meaningful connections to satisfy the needs of their now liberated meta-minds.


Glenn Grant: Meme (pron. meem): A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic. H. Keith Henson: A meme survives in the world because people pass it on to other people, either vertically to the next generation, or horizontally to our fellows. This process is analogous to the way willow genes cause willow trees to spread them, or perhaps closer to the way cold viruses make us sneeze and spread them. Peter J. Vajk: It is important to note here that, in contrast to genes, memes are not encoded in any universal code within our brains or in human culture. The meme for vanishing point perspective in two-dimensional art, for example, which first appeared in the sixteenth century, can be encoded and transmitted in German, English or Chinese; it can be described in words, or in algebraic equations, or in line drawings. Nonetheless, in any of these forms, the meme can be transmitted, resulting in a certain recognizable element of realism which appears only in art works executed by artists infected with this meme. Heith Michael Rezabek: My favorite example of a crucial meme would be "fire" or more importantly, "how to make a fire." This is a behavioral meme, mind you, one which didn't necessarily need a word attached to it to spring up and spread, merely a demonstration for another to follow. Once the meme was out there, it would have spread like wildfire, for obvious reasons... But when you start to think of memes like that -- behavioral memes -- then you can begin to see how language itself, the idea of language, was a meme. Writing was a meme. And within those areas, more specific memes emerged. Lee Borkman: Memes, like genes, vary in their fitness to survive in the environment of human intellect. Some reproduce like bunnies, but are very short-lived (fashions), while others are slow to reproduce, but hang around for eons (religions, perhaps?). Note that the fitness of the meme is not necessarily related to the fitness that it confers upon the human being who holds it. The most obvious example of this is the "Smoking is Cool" meme, which does very well for itself while killing off its hosts at a great rate.




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