Stanley Chin Posted over 2 years ago How important is a common vocabulary for sharing ideas, and how do we arrive at one? I work a bit on ontologies and structured vocabulary in information exchange across data systems - with computers the normalization of terminologies is essential, and requires quite a bit of human coordination and agreement. Governance turns out to matter quite a lot, since terms change in meaning and you have to continue to harmonize as this occurs. So it's a social, systemic problem requiring old fashioned politics, in the sense of forming consensus and agreement around complicated issues. In ordinary human interchange we can't require adherence to a single set of data standards, so a certain level of feedback checking on assumptions and meanings is essential. It can be local and tactical rather than global, but we do this all the time, and often with really subtle cues like diction, or use of reference points. The intentional use of emotionally laden terms to substitute for neutral descriptive ones ("death panels") is a different order issue, I think. There are lots of ways to use language to render threats or otherwise prevent communication.