A Short Celebratory / Appreciation Post

by lionhearted 1y23rd May 20189 comments

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Three thoughts.

1. The new LessWrong 2.0, at least for me personally, has been really marvelous. I've greatly enjoyed some of the discussions on mindfulness, pragmatic achieving type-stuff, definitions and clarifications and naming of broad concepts, and explorations of technology and artificial intelligence. Kaj Sotala and Zvi Mowshowitz both offered some fantastic insights that I particularly enjoyed, and I came across some of Nate Soares's writing on motivation and decisionmaking via here which is incredibly timely and insightful for me.

2. I wanted to stop and reflect for a moment that this took a lot of work to make happen. I imagine that a conservative estimate of how much the volunteer time spent programming and designing and curating here would have cost in salary at market rates is... at least $300,000 USD? More? That's... like... a bunch of people put hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of market-priced labor into building this place, and it's generating a lot of insights that are really fantastic. Wow. It's easy to forget how much work goes into making the world run smoothly. I feel both a sense of mild awe at the ability of the team to build the place, and gratitude that they did so. Coordination is hard. Design is hard. Community-building is hard. And it worked. That's so cool.

3. I also want to note a strange feeling I had — it went something like, "If I wrote only the first and second points, this wouldn't be a good post." There's a strange norm in civilization at large — at least, certainly in developed Western countries — against just stopping and offering a general sense of appreciation and respect for this type of work. I thought it might be useful to reflect on why, and I came up with a few potential reasons — first, for whatever damn reason, sprezzatura is seen as high-status and proper behavior; thus, the people who do hard work of making things happen will play off the work required ("ahh, no big deal") and generally, someone in the audience or community remarking on all the work is... mildly discouraged. Second, I suppose that if done too often, it'd be low signal-to-noise ratio, which is valid. Third, maybe there's some lingering "don't put too much trust in authorities" sort of norm across Western civilization; we call things "cult-like" if members of a community show too much blind appreciation.

There's probably some validity in all of that — but man, y'know, things are hard. It's rare and incredibly cool and impressive when things actually work. The default state of things is that things don't work. So, lack of sprezzatura, signal/noise risk, and don't-praise-authority-norm-violation aside, I just wanted to say — this has been really cool. Sincere appreciation and admiration for the whole team — I've learned a lot from all the contributions on LW2.0, this is once again one of my favorite websites on the internet, and it almost certainly wouldn't have happened without a ton of hard work. A big thanks to all the team who built the new site, and everyone contributing great thinking here.

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