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gworley comments on On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus - Less Wrong

82 Post author: AnnaSalamon 27 November 2016 05:13PM

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Comment author: gworley 27 November 2016 09:31:49PM 5 points [-]

As someone who is actively doing something in this direction at Map and Territory, a couple thoughts.

A single source is weak in several ways. In particular although it may sound nice and convenient from the inside, no major movement that affects a significant portion of the population has a single source. It may have its seed in a single source, but it is spread and diffuse and made up of thousands of voices saying different things. There's no one play to go for social justice or neoreaction or anything else, but there are lots of voices saying lots of things in lots of places. Some voices are louder and more respected than others, true, but success at spreading ideas means loss of centralization of the conversation.

A single source also restricts you to the choices of that source. Don't like the editorial choices and you don't have anywhere else to go. The only way to include everyone is to be like reddit and federate editorial power.

If I'm totally honest I think most desire to revitalize LW is about a nostalgia for what LW once was. I freely admit I even played on this nostalgia in the announcement of Map and Territory.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/o0u/map_and_territory_a_new_rationalist_group_blog/

I also suspect there is a certain amount of desire for personal glory. Wouldn't it be high status to be the person who was the new center of the rationalists community? So as much as people may not like to admit it, I suspect these kinds of calls for a new, unified thing play at least a little bit on people's status seeking desires. I have nothing against this if it creates the outcomes you want, but it's worth considering if it's also prohibiting coordination.

What seems to matter is spreading ideas that we/you believe will make the world better (though to be clear I don't personally care about that: I just like when my own thinking is influential on others). To this end having more content on LW is helpful, but only in so far as more content is helpful in general. Visibility for that content is probably even more important than the self-judged quality of the content itself.

I agree with Anna's sentiment, but I'd encourage you not to spin your wheels trying to recreate the LessWrong that once existed. Create new things you want to exist to spread the ideas you want to see others take up.

Comment author: SatvikBeri 27 November 2016 09:53:35PM 9 points [-]

100% centralization is obviously not correct, but 100% decentralization seems to have major flaws as well–for example, it makes discovery, onboarding, and progress in discussion a lot harder.

On the last point: I think the LW community has discovered ways to have better conversations, such as tabooing words. Being able to talk to someone who has the same set of prerequisites allows for much faster, much more interesting conversation, at least on certain topics. The lack of any centralization means that we're not building up a set of prerequisites, so we're stuck at conversation level 2 when we need to achieve level 10.

Comment author: Jacobian 30 November 2016 07:06:13PM 2 points [-]

I also suspect there is a certain amount of desire for personal glory. Wouldn't it be high status to be the person who was the new center of the rationalists community? So as much as people may not like to admit it, I suspect these kinds of calls for a new, unified thing play at least a little bit on people's status seeking desires.

That's a good point, but I also want to offer that I don't personally see this as a huge problem for LW. Maybe it's because I'm a latecomer, but I never really cared or kept track of who was high status on LW. First of all, I imagine that a lot of the status hierarchy is settled in real-life interactions and not by counting karma. We're all in Eliezer's shadow anyway.

I just want LW to be great again. I don't mind donating money to a small group of people who will take responsibility for making it great again. I certainly don't mind letting this small group get glory and status, especially if getting paid in status will get us a discount on the monetary cost :)