Things that want to be posts

Epistemic Status: Attempting Epistemology

Structural Status: Necessary but pretty probably terrible

I was at an unconference this past weekend. One of the things that became clear to me was that I need to be writing again, and writing more, and that I was not doing that because I was afraid of it. Which is further evidence I should probably be doing it. And it is known that the best way to do it, is to start doing it.

I also realized that real conversations are better than fake conversations, and that this distinction was actually a thing, which means I should be worried less about getting something correct and good enough exactly, or getting it ‘done’ than in actually sharing my thought process and reasoning and so forth. It is not like I didn’t know that real was better than fake or that this thing that we called real was more real than the fake but I did not have the names for the concepts so even though I did understand that this was what my best conversations had and what my Magic articles had (and was what allowed me to output so many of them) it did not properly resonate.

I suspect that is also why the sequences worked even though they choose horrible examples and have tons of things that now seem like mistakes, and when Eliezer later sat down to try and write a book, it didn’t work right.

I would sit and think: I should write something but I don’t know what and feel out of ideas which is insane because I’m Zvi Mowshowitz and I’m full of ideas, or at least curiosity and attempts to understand things, except when I’m not, and that was pretty awful and I should get on fixing that and I had help doing that and this seems way better now and hopefully I can hang on to that.

I didn’t know what to do first but I also wanted to make sure I set myself up to do a lot so I wanted to put down and make public that I had put down seeds to other things that I want to think about by writing about them. I think most of my best writing works that way: I don’t know what I am going to say not because I have not decided what to say, but because I actually don’t know the things until I start saying them, at which point I figure them out, or if those aren’t the things I am going to say, I figure out something else. That also happens.

So to motivate myself, here is a list of things in my head right now that want to be blog posts, or at least have aspirations of wanting to be blog posts, or that I want to think about in the form of blog posts. Feel free to add additional suggestions or give +1s, and this does not include reacting to other people’s things, which I think is on the top of my mental stack often and which is important to do in long form for reasons that want to be a blog post.

So without further ado, noting that there’s a lot of “for some value of one or more of these words” that is implied, and that it’s perfectly OK to have zero idea what many or most of these are, since that’s probably my fault, but I think if for example Scott or Sarah or Ben wrote one of these I’d quite enjoy being confused by it, so here goes:

True conversations and how to have them online

Theocratic anarchism (still hazy or worse on the theocratic part)

Circling

Summer Children that need to chill the **** down (but, wolf) and also they need more hot tubs

Stopping Bad Brain Interventions, especially ones that take away necessary false definitions

Blindsight (the thing, not the book, that book was awful and everyone is wrong and that probably does NOT want to be a blog post)

Common Crux (formerly/currently Double Crux)

Model of (rationalist and similar) community lifecycle, and how to save them, and if they should be saved

Should everyone be in one place?

How to timeshift (and therefore potentially overcome) analysis paralysis

What to do with AGI ideas that probably are worthless but just might kill us all

Bunny!

Hand squiggly motions (CFAR thing)

Utility function time ranges and feedback cycles for optimal optimization

Open circuit 7! Shut down 4 (not permanently)?

Seeing things by filtering other things out (like the Guide in Mostly Harmless?!)

Word overloads especially ones that make your sentences all sound like contradictions (paging Michael Vassar even more than usual)

Elephant in the golden room

Lightning talks

Trio walks (2 vs. 3 vs. many)

The AI paper with the best title ever

How to assume enough information

Clarification culture vs. Specification culture (which is not guess vs. ask, which is misnamed) which may relate to Arbital

Responses to sacred spaces (gendered and otherwise)

Ism and the ists

Book Review: How Asia Works (use both sides of paper if necessary)

Zvi watches the Pro Tour (that’s a sequence)

Kids are better except they’re stupid

This is the foom

Density of time, (dis?)utility of shorter thoughts

Lateral metaknowledge transfer

Fear: of writing, acting, consequences, stakes, and possibly quoting multiple really bad movies

Was Colossus right about Deadpool?

“There is only one science.”

Feedback cycles and maybe when to yell at people

Time and sleep management with respect to FOMO

Guess so you will guess iff the guess is right: A culture

Merging friend context groups

The fire of a thousand suns

The art of the ARPG

Super Bowl Thursday

I know you think choices are really bad, but they’re even worse than that

The effectiveness part is great (but, often, misnamed)

Step one become worthy. Step two avoid power.

…and other neat stuff like that. Maybe I’ll edit this post.

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13 Responses to Things that want to be posts

  1. Robert says:

    Well, I for one, would really like reading many of these. Even if you are wrong about people being wrong about Blindsight 🙂

    • TheZvi says:

      Am I wrong about people being wrong because people actually agree with me (e.g. PDV’s comment) or am I wrong because it’s actually good?

      I don’t actually remember that many of the details, which is why I wouldn’t write that post, but I do remember (back when the book was fresh) being 1 for 1 in convincing people who thought the book was great that it was in fact awful, although typing that makes me wonder if that’s a worthwhile thing since it’s basically Stop Having Fun, Guys.

      • Anonymous says:

        I enjoyed the plot and concepts, felt the characters and character development were rather dreary. 3/5.

  2. PDV says:

    Half of those sound great, you are right about the novel Blindsight, and if you get even halfway back to your Magic writing I, personally, will be very pleased.

    • PDV says:

      Correction: half of those sound definitely great, the other half I’m not sure.
      (I am deeply, deeply suspicious of Circling, though.)

      • TheZvi says:

        Being deeply skeptical of Circling is a very good idea. The pattern of thought that isn’t deeply skeptical of circling is very bad, and I strongly suspect that the majority of people who use them, are doing something bad. I wanted to say wrong, because they say you can’t do it wrong and that means that of course everyone is doing it wrong, but wrong doesn’t quite fit somehow. Hopefully that makes sense.

  3. Anonymous says:

    > I’m Zvi Mowshowitz

    Thanks, I was honestly wondering who the heck’s blog this was when it popped out of nowhere on my RSS. And frankly this comes across as a strange mix of Tumblr neuroticism and NRX (I can approve of the latter but you’re gonna have to cite about 500 more old dudes I’ve never heard of, or something).

    >The art of the ARPG

    Ever play Path of Exile?

    >The effectiveness part is great

    same

    • TheZvi says:

      Odd that someone wouldn’t know who this was. I wasn’t trying to be subtle! I would have thought about half the posts at least implicitly identify me.

      The Tumblr comment makes intuitive sense. Given how much I dislike Tumblr neuroticism (I first typed hate and maybe should have gone with that? But that seems like a very non-useful thing to identify with here), it’s a good warning that it comes across as a lot of that. If I do talk about that stuff and sound like I’m buying into or endorsing it as a category, please (virtually) slap me across the face and yell “Stop It!” and link me back to this reply.

      The scarier idea is that Tumblr has so infected an entire generation of the people who are trying to think about anything at all that attempting to find ways to do metaprogramming or have impact on the world, and engineering for the doing of same, inevitably end up having to sound like those people, or at least use their language, and when you use their language, their language uses you (see: looking into the Abyss or dancing with the devil). If that is true, it can be seen as evidence in either direction (along more than one axis). They are more dangerous, but in a strange way, perhaps there is hope for them yet – or at least, hope that they can be a useful example and not just a warning sign.

      As far as NRX, that seems more like a false positive, but perhaps it isn’t entirely false, and your attitude there seems healthy. I do hear about them and their ideas every so often, usually via SSC. I consider them Wrong, but that’s high praise (hence it being capitalized), because what they are not is Not Even Wrong.

      As for Path of Exile, indeed I have, which is why this was on my mind recently. The four games I would talk about are Diablo II, Diablo III, Torchlight II and Path of Exile.

      • Anonymous says:

        >Odd that someone wouldn’t know who this was. I wasn’t trying to be subtle! I would have thought about half the posts at least implicitly identify me.

        I think I subscribed to this blog sometime after you stopped posting, then forgot about it, hence not remembering.

        > I do hear about them and their ideas every so often, usually via SSC. I consider them Wrong

        Not saying you’re necessarily Wrong about the Wrongness (then again who isn’t Wrong), but there’s ways to learn about something aside from “hearing about it”.

        >As for Path of Exile, indeed I have, which is why this was on my mind recently. The four games I would talk about are Diablo II, Diablo III, Torchlight II and Path of Exile.

        Haven’t played Torchlight, but I’ve played Way Too Much of the other 3. Most recently PoE, which is probably the best aside from fairly bad UI/UX.

      • TheZvi says:

        A lot of people are not wrong, in the sense of being not even wrong! A much smaller number are right.

        Given you’ve played way too much of the other three, Torchlight II is recommended when you’re looking for lighter fare, assuming you’re happy about the way too much thing. it can go both ways.

      • Anonymous says:

        At the moment I’m still interest in PoE 2.6/3.0, but I’ll keep it in mind if I get burned out.

  4. A few of these are strongly fascinating, several that seem like they’ll go nowhere, and a few that are delightfully vague. If I would request just one, it would be “Feedback cycles and maybe when to yell at people”.

  5. rossry says:

    +1s to, in approximately descending order:

    – Should everyone be in one place?
    – Common Crux (formerly/currently Double Crux) — I’ve read other descriptions, but I expect Zvi’s to be marginally useful regardless
    – Lateral metaknowledge transfer
    – I know you think choices are really bad, but they’re even worse than that
    – Responses to sacred spaces (gendered and otherwise)
    – Time and sleep management with respect to FOMO
    – How to assume enough information
    – Step one become worthy. Step two avoid power.

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