I disapprove of the lesswrongy tendency to try to coin new words or new meanings for old words for concepts that already exist and are useful.
I will try to explain where my disagreement is.
1. Concept space is huge. There are more concepts than there are words for concepts. (There are many possible frames from which to conceptualize a concept too, which continues to explode the number of ways to think about any given concept.)
2. Whenever I try to ‘coin’ a term, I’m not trying to redefine an old concept. I have a new concept, often belonging in a particular new frame. This new concept contains a lot of nuance and specificity, different from any old words or concepts. I want to relay MY concept, which contains and implies a bunch of models I have about the world. Old words would fail to capture any of this—and would also fail to properly imply that I want to relay something confusingly but meaningfully precise.
3. I’m not ‘making up’ these concepts from nothing. I’m not ‘thinking of ways to add complexity’ to concepts. My concepts are already that complex. I’m merely sharing a concept I already have, that is coming forth from my internal, implicit models—and I try to make them explicit so others can know what concepts I already implicitly, subconsciously use to conceptualize the world. And my concepts are unique because the set of models I have are different from yours. And when I feel I’ve got a concept that feels particularly important in some way, I want to share it.
4. I want to understand people’s true, implicit concepts—which are probably always full of nuance and implicit models. I am endlessly interested in people’s precise, unique concepts. It’s like getting a deep taste of someone’s worldview in a single bite-sized piece. I like getting tastes of people’s worldviews because everyone has a unique set of models and data, and that complexity is reflected in their concepts. Their concepts—which always start implicit and nonverbal, if they can learn to verbalize them and communicate them—are rich and layered. And I want them. (Also I think it is a very, very valuable skill to be able to explicate your implicit concepts and models. LessWrong seems like a good place to practice.)
5. “But what about building upon human knowledge, which requires creating a shared language? What about figuring out which concepts are best and building on those?” I agree this is a good goal to have. The platform of LessWrong is already built to prune concept space (with multiple ways for concepts to be promoted or demoted).
But I do think this goal is “at odds” with my goal of sharing my concepts, learning others’ concepts, and diving into the depths of concept space. What I want here is to be in the “whiteboarding” phase where lots of ideas and thoughts are allowed to surface, and maybe it’s their first time really seeing the light, but I get feedback, and other people have associated thoughts and share those. And it’s a generative sort of phase, rather than a pruning phase.
It seems plausible my posts should stay in my ‘blog’ and off the front page? I don’t fully understand the point of front page vs blog personally. But I’d be happy to keep my posts in the corner of “my blog” and do the ‘whiteboarding’ thing there.
If any of the mods want to discuss this dilemma with me (I’d prefer doing this offline), I’d be into getting more opinions on this.
My current perspective is that I think new terms and words are fine for the frontpage. It needs to be easy and cheap to suggest new words and abstractions, and most of them will just never find traction and that’s fine.
Being able to create new vocabulary is pretty important for building a better understanding of almost any domain, and I don’t see a way of doing that while discouraging any individual from coining new terms and concepts.
FWIW, when I recently suggested renaming Frontpage to “whiteboard”, it was precisely because I think that’s roughly the level of polish frontpage is supposed to have. (Although if we did that I’d want to have a formal category for higher-polished stuff that’s easier to get into than Curated is now)
In this case this doesn’t really feel like coining a new word? (although maybe some of Unreal’s phrasing points towards that? a la ‘I’m calling it dependability.’)
It’s useful/important to note that grit and conscientiousness are terms in the literature. But, like, dependability is an actual word that actually means what Unreal is using it for.
That just makes an opening like “I have become very, very interested in developing a skill that I call Dependability.” even more annoying to me.
I guess I disagree :P