Information exchange

In most educated countries, the birth rate has dropped below the replacement rate, meaning that the overall population is shrinking. This is interesting if you think of reproduction as replication of strings of information, in this case those strings being DNA strands.
It was Stewart Brand who coined the phrase "information wants to be free". It recognized that people like to share secrets, and information spreads like a virus--these days we use the term meme.
In a sense, Darwinism should work with information of all forms. But it just works slower with reproduction of species. Evolution is simply survival of the most effective information strings (DNA) which produce a physical form most adapted to survival on this planet.
It's interesting to consider all of these forces converging. You have the more affluent, educated societies of the world beginning to contract as couples decide not to have kids. Birth control allows couples to indulge the genetic reproductive urge while avoiding the responsibilities of parenthood. Such couples are thwarting the propogation of the genetic information they carry. Where am I going with this? I don't know.
But I'll forge on anyway. Why is it that we're attracted to "beautiful" people? If we view the selection of our mates as a means of maximizing the chance that our DNA will survive and pass on to the next generation, perhaps we are attracted to so called beautiful people because we recognized, throughout our youth, the advantages that accrue to the beautiful. Our kids will certainly have an easier childhood if they are not unattractive in any noticeable way. As we all know, kids are cruel.
Perhaps it also explains why we are attracted to talented, successful people. Maybe it's why rock stars get all the babes. Their success is evidence of some advantage in their genetic makeup which we'd like to merge with our own DNA to strengthen it.
Then why do some women settle for the couch potato with the beer gut?
I'll diverge again. I remember reading this article in Wired by John Perry Barlow, in which he talked about how outdated patent law is when applied to the digital economy, where ideas are encoded in bits of 1's and 0's. When we exchange ideas, we are trading information of value without actually swapping currency. We've just removed that step from the equation. In the past, those ideas might be encoded as a widget which we'd then pay for with currency. Today, much of the information of value can be exchanged directly as digital goods, without that step of translation into a physical good.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that I write my weblog and keep my website to pay for all the great information I receive from the web itself. Yes, I have just two dollars on my Amazon pay page (thx Todd and Mike!). But in a way, I should be paying back the web for being a hugely valuable asset to me in the past seven years.