Saturday, September 17, 2005

A blogger's language


I feel like procrastinating for a bit (if you can call 'procrastinating' doing what I am paid to do and I have neglected because of my blogging 'habit', of course), but I did not want to leave you guys wondering when my next post is going to be. I am mostly finished with a new one, but I don't want it to be as reference-light as my last one (to which I also plan to add a few more references after some more searching). So let me just talk about my motivations.

For those that have been around since the beginning (less than a month ago) you know that I created this partially because I was tired of fighting Pyrrhic battles in my fellow bloggers comment sections. But now that I have created this, I now find myself fighting the same battles in other blogger's comment sections!!!. I need to stop what is becoming a stronger addiction. Anybody knows of a good 'bloggers anonymous' organization?.

I feel that I have a somewhat different view of the world (aren't we all special?). While I see people wanting to fight the particular color of a particular leaf in a particular tree. I see myself pointing out that not only it is plastic tree, but that there are all those forest fires around them that they should be paying attention to. So I tend to focus on what I would call meta-discussions, and that's why I pay so much attention to language (and labels).

Many of the 'arguments' I face tend to be purely Ad Hominem and given the way I see language, this is a non argument. Sometimes it becomes very hard to make someone entrenched in their views to understand that I don't care about what they are saying, because to me they are not really saying anything. At that point the battle becomes about the 'existence of a leaf.' And if the other battles are not that satisfying, these are plainly boring. So if you checked my 'rules' you now see why this is a big no-no in my blog.

Most of the real arguments I see, and the ones that I really become a part of, tend at the end to be related to particulars of language, many times I end up realizing this, and pointing it out. And many times I wish that someone had figured it out before I did, as some times it can make some tempers boil (including my own). I know about word definitions, I have recently wasted a good part of two man-years of effort, and have a project delayed by three months, just because of the difference in definitions of a couple of words in between two different scientific disciplines. So those are errors I try to avoid at all costs. If you follow some of my own comment sections, keeping this in mind, you will clearly see what I mean.

So the next time you get into a heated discussion, try to stand back and see the other person's point of view, remove everything that is irrelevant, try to understand why that other person thinks the way they do (and avoid going Ad Hominem yourself of course), and try to figure out what word definitions could be modified to make sense of their point of view. You might start seeing the world differently, or at the very least you might conclude that you are just wasting your time, and move on. After all, it all depends on what your definition of 'is' is.
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