This comment reads pretty differently two years later 😅
Thanks for the pushback! I agree that the specific meaning you're outlining isn't captured by any of my alternatives. That said, part of my issue is that I don't think EAs consistently use it that way: if you search "legible" on the Forum, I think a lot of the instances are essentially just synonyms for "clear". If people used "legible" when they meant "clear and verifiable" and used "clear" when they meant "clear", I'd be on board with that.
Even if the status quo continues, I don't think it's the end of the world or anything. I just sometimes feel like we're using jargon because it makes us feel cool rather than to facilitate communication, and that gives me some weird vibes.
Interesting, thanks for the explanation! That makes sense.
I do think my main claim still holds: that this usage is pretty unusual and can contribute to confusion, especially with non-EA folks. I'm not saying we should never use it, but I think we should examine when jargon facilitates communication by pointing to something that is not captured by any simpler term, vs when jargon impedes communication by reducing comprehension. At least for me, this usage of "legible" on the Forum initially fell into the latter category. And even now, I'm not sure it falls into the former category (for me personally).
Oh, is the EA usage based on that book? That's interesting.
My impression is that the book uses "legibility" to refer to the simplification and homogenization of society for ease of understanding, primarily for the purpose of control. The EA usage seems to focus on understanding in general, without a goal of control, and not necessarily via simplification or homogenization. For example, simplifying a complex phenomenon to the point where important nuances are lost would not be called legible by EA, because you're not understanding the actual phenomenon anymore.
The EA usage and Seeing Like a State usage are certainly related, just as they're both related to the original definition of "capable of being read". But they seem pretty different to me.
Disclaimer: I've only read sections of the book, not the whole book. So it's certainly possible that the author includes additional discussion which I didn't read.
Late to the party, but I just came across this post and wanted to add another perspective. For context, I've been "living EA principles" for a while, but am not really involved in the community and have never applied to EAG.
The fact that the biggest EA conference is intentionally exclusive is something of a red flag for me and makes me significantly less likely to apply to EAG. In my experience, one of the strongest predictors of whether I will connect with a given community is how much they value inclusivity. (This has been true even in cases where I was part of the "in-group".)
I understand that there are tradeoffs, and I don't have enough context to form an opinion on whether the benefits of exclusivity are worth the costs in this case. My goal here isn't to argue for either position; I just wanted to add another data point for those costs.