Russell Conjugation and The Great Rebranding

Dec 28, 2021

What was once VR/AR is now the Metaverse. Cryptocurrency is now Web3. One of Benedict Evans' slides in his presentation Three Steps into the Future deemed this The Great Rebranding.

It reminded me of a post by Eric Weinstein on Russell Conjugation, also known as emotive conjugation. Russell Conjugation is the observation of how we tend to describe facts differently depending on the conjugation of the phrase. Bertrand Russell originally used these examples (from Weinstein's blog):

I am firm. [Positive empathy]
You are obstinate. [Neutral to mildly negative empathy]
He/She/It is pigheaded.  [Very negative empathy]

I think that we can see this in the Great Rebranding. In the world of cryptocurrencies and stocks.

I invest.
You trade.
He/she/it speculates.
I paid gas fees
You paid transaction fees
He/she/it paid hidden charges

In the world of VR/AR

I'm building the metaverse.
You're making a game.
He/she/it is recreating Second Life.

I think the lessons is to tread carefully when reading these statements. Our tendency is to judge them more on the emotive content than the factual content (which is why you hear about the estate tax from the Democrats and the death tax from Republicans).