I had a realization about the riots in the UK.
The following material is flagged Violet Level.The author has seen something that gave him reason to retract the beliefs contained within, and only retains the posting for archival purposes.
It goes a bit like this: You know how they used to say that the revolution would not be televised? Well, in this age, that's about as far as you can get from the truth. The revolution will be televised. The revolution will be tweeted, blogged, radioed, and pamphlet-ed to within an inch of its life. The revolution will do this to itself, because the revolution must go viral to survive.
Do you remember what I said about evolution a while ago? As a refresher, there's a semi-controversial application of the theory called memetics. Memetics deals with the evolution of ideas, specifically ideas called memes that transmit themselves from one mind to another. In order to transmit themselves more effectively, some memes form structures called memeplexes (such as religions or political philosophies) in which each meme contributes to the survival and spread of others.
(It occurs to me that I need to write a post on the evolution of cooperation. Next time, maybe.)
So what does this have to do with television? Simple. Television, and other forms of mass media, are designed to transmit an idea from one person to a large number of people. Mass media allow memes and memeplexes to spread through a population much faster than simple word of mouth can carry them. So if one person has an idea, and that idea can be expressed in words or as an image or as a recording, that idea will start to spread faster once the meme hits a mass-media outlet.
And in the age of blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, everyone with an Internet connection is potentially a mass-media outlet.
And here's where the riots in the UK get into the post (warning: this is going to sound a bit Marxist, and the events described are a bit of an oversimplification). Once upon a time, there was a land called Egypt. The ruling parties of Egypt lived well, but the poor suffered and the middle-class was rapidly shrinking. Someone who was involved in a service operating in Egypt that allowed people to communicate got the idea of sparking some protests, just to see what would happen.
And happen things did! People started protesting the rulers. The rulers cracked down on these protests. This caused the protesters to begin protesting harder, and more people joined the protests. In time, the voice of the people was clearly organized against the rulers. The people of another land called the United States began to place pressure on their own ruler to assist the people of Egypt, and eventually managed it. In time, even the Egyptian army joined with the people, and the ruler was overthrown. The Egyptians began to draw up a new way of organizing their land, but there was some doubt as to whether or not the army could be trusted.
At the end of all this, things began to happen in yet another land called Great Britain. Britain had long had systems in place by which the poor were fed and the middle class protected, but ever since the reign of a leader named Thatcher these systems were being dismantled for the benefit of the rich. As the system by which the poor and the middle class could improve their stations was dismantled, riots began to break out. In response, the British judges began to place harsh sentences upon the rioters; the British government, like many governments, being heavily influenced by the rich.
Now, let us look at what is happening from a memetic standpoint.
One person working at Facebook, in the interest of SCIENCE!, distributed a meme, which we will call A. A, under specific conditions, led to revolts, creating a meme (B) in the minds of the rulers that caused them to crack down on the protests. However, the increased opposition led to the spread of A, and the increased spread of A strengthened B. This formed a simple pseudo-memeplex, in that memes held in different minds reinforced one another. In time, A grew to the point that it triggered a realization that it was the Voice of the People. Of course, this realization (C) itself became a meme. From that point, C exerted popularity pressure on various people's minds until the revolution succeeded (naturally eliminating B and making A temporarily irrelevant).
Of course, the success of the revolution was noticed by others, leading to a new meme (D) holding that revolution was possible. D is capable of forming memeplexes with any meme similar to A, and thus acts as a carrier for A and similar memes.
Then, some meme similar to A (possibly even A itself) landed in the mind of someone in Britain...
The whole point of this (and the prediction): The UK is going to be the next Egypt.
Link and cite: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Meme