Longtermism ⋂ Twitter

by RyanCarey1 min read15th Jun 202012 comments

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There's now a medium-sized amount of discussion of longtermism on Twitter, and I've noticed a bunch of people newly using it (such as some of those listed by Stefan Schubert here).

Twitter seems like a potentially underrated platform for longtermists. Like the EA Forum, Twitter promotes "liked" content. It allows us to follow content of interest to us. But it also differs from the EA Forum in some ways:

  • It promotes concise discussion.
  • It allows distribution of content to non-EA audiences.
  • It allows reading content from non-EA contributors.
  • It promotes content from top contributors to a greater degree.

Twitter also has some negative traits: it's potentially addictive, boosts (upvoted) political and emotional content. Unlike the EA Forum, it doesn't help longtermist content to be indexed, or attract as much within-group critique.

For better and for worse, I think the default path now is that Twitter forms a significant chunk of ongoing longtermist discourse. For long-form posts, I think many will be posted onto the EA Forum, Medium, or a personal blog, and then shared there.

Is there anything that needs to be done to adjust this trajectory? Mostly, the trajectory seems fine. Probably, some more posts on the EA Forum that are of widespread interest should be shared via Twitter. Probably, more effort should also be invested in mitigating politicisation and polarisation of the EA message there.

Edit: As a useful counterpoint, Tanner Greer argues that Twitter is turning the public sphere into just a "bare-knuckle brawl" here. If he's right: can we still participate in high-quality public conversation in Twitter? How can we best faciliate high-quality conversation in the public sphere without it? Or should we give up on that objective?

Edit 2: Another (old) post where Andrew Gelman argues for blogs over Twitter https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2014/11/22/blogs-twitter/. At this point, I think the right idea a lot of the time is to write blog posts, and then post them to Twitter.

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