Babble and Prune

Applied to Directed Babbling by papetoast ago
Applied to Open Mic - August 2023 by Adam Zerner ago

Babble and Prune is a metaphor derived from concepts in algorithm design, applied to creative and analytical thinking. The phrase captures a two-step process:

  • "Babble" refers to generating a large volume of ideas without immediately judging their quality or feasibility. It emphasizes the importance of creative output, even when many ideas are flawed, absurd, or irrelevant. The goal is to break through local maxima in idea space and explore the broader landscape of possibilities.
  • "Prune" refers to the subsequent process of critically examining, refining, and selecting from the pool of ideas generated during the babble phase. This phase entails the application of reason, evidence, and judgment to identify the best or most promising ideas among the raw, unfiltered output.

The "Babble and Prune" concept serves as a reminder that creativity and critical thinking are distinct, complementary skills. It's often unproductive to judge ideas too quickly or harshly (pruning too early), just as it can be unproductive to fail to critically examine one's ideas (babbling without pruning).

Artist and Critic, Generator and Discriminator are other terms used to describe Babble and Prune in more formal contexts.

The main starting point is the Babble and Prune sequence.

Applied to Babble on growing trust by Ruby ago
Applied to Language Ex Machina by janus ago
Applied to Butterfly Ideas by MondSemmel ago
Applied to Babble Thread by Adam Zerner ago