Against Against Disputing Definitions
is my explanation of why disputing definitions, a commonly despised activity, is actually often A Good Thing. Categorizing things differently leads to different results, so make sure you pick a good system for categorization – or, even better, learn to use different systems in different circumstances (yay, meta-rationality!).
Every mode of communication leads to different thoughts (hence this newsletter!) – so the more modes of communication you have, the better you end up exploring the map:
The more I shared my unfiltered ideas, the more ideas I started having. My random posts sparked thoughtful responses that sent me down months-long research rabbit holes and inspired several substantial writing projects.
Furthermore, anonymity lets you bring out the parts of your identity that you previously were afraid to bring out – then you can integrate them with your “public” identity if you want to:
My alt account is like a satellite that orbits my current identity. It does weird research, plays with uncomfortable ideas, asks dumb questions. Eventually, it sends its learnings back to HQ. New learnings are integrated, and the process of exploration begins a new — ad infinitum.
Finally, it’s fun. I treat my main account as “informational”, and it turns out there is also a “conversational” part to Twitter that I have completely missed:
When I compared my two accounts to each other, it was easy to see how their tones and textures differed. One was free-wheeling and conversational and weird and fun. The other, mostly silent and sterile. My cyber mask made me comfortable replying to people I looked up to. It emboldened me to ask stupid questions and share weird(er) ideas. Thanks to the mask, I slowly transformed from a lurker to a participant.
Overall, highly recommended. (And I wonder what other “easy” modes of communication I am missing.)
“[He] had read much, and although he generally forgot what he read, there were left with him from his reading certain nebulous lights, begotten by other men’s thinking, which enabled him to talk on most subjects. It cannot be said of him that he did much thinking for himself — but he thought that he thought.”
Actually, here is an even worse (better) quote:
The condition also creates a voracious appetite for a very unhealthy kind of intellectual diet: heavy on concepts, a little lighter on facts (favoring qualitative and historical rather than quantitative and current) and rather light on how, or skills/procedural knowledge.
In my case, I don’t even care much about facts, I just want concepts. Spotting connections between semi-related things is fun.
On the other hand – concepts are
sometimes useful. They create bins into which I collect observations; surely, this is useless if I don’t do anything with those observations, but that can be the next step. Reading The Master and His Emissary
made me notice a bunch of things
that I am currently fixing, etc.
Anyway, I recognize the truth in the description, but I don’t know where to go from it or what to do next.
When It’s Done, It’s Done
describes my struggle with getting things done instead of enjoying the process. It’s very slightly connected to another quote from the previous post:
More than for almost any other personality type, Idea people must actively manage perceptions, because they don’t have the luxury of having strong, silent actions speak for themselves.
It is hard to produce strong, silent actions if you don’t have goals which those actions could be useful for. Makes sense – if something is silent and doesn’t lead to anything, why do it?
I spent all my life going “here are my %unrealistic goals%, what do I do now?” and now it’s time to switch to “here are some %realistic goals%, how can I achieve them?”.