Updated October 22, 2022

Language and transpilers

I find the concept of terminology quite interesting. It's a tool in our language that makes thinking more efficient, an abstraction layer that enables you to explain complex topics more efficiently. Once you name a phenomenon, you can build more complex ideas using it.

There's only one caveat: it requires domain knowledge. Think about computers. The process of "understanding" for humans and machines is somewhat similar — read instructions, compile, execute, and render. So if someone doesn't have a "compiler," they won't understand.

Going a level higher, there's a structure we choose to describe something. If you oversimplify for everyone to understand, you lose data (~.mp3). If you are too close to the structure you use in your mind, you lose the audience (~.flac).

This balance is important. For example, if science is overly popularized, it stops being useful; people engage but stop thinking.

This is taking something with substance and value and coring it out so that it can be swallowed without chewing.

Benjamin Bratton. TED, 2013

In writing, it's about the connection between the work and the reader:

Everyone is constantly trying to articulate the secret languages in their head to the outside world. If your language is too secret, then no one can understand; if your language is completely public, then there's no mystery. There's no longer the pleasure of decoding.

Jenny Zhang. Creative Independent, 2018

Ultimately, the main reason to put thoughts into words is to communicate with others. If the idea loses too much after compression, maybe it's not time to share it at all?