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The Web Ended the "Linguistic Division of Labor"

Reading Richard Boyd’s 1979 essay, What is a metaphor a metaphor for?, where he says this:

Experts play a crucial role in reference for theoretical terms (and relatively esoteric terms generally) precisely because it is they who provide nonpassive epistemic access to the referents of those terms.

Which is a nonpassively esoteric way of saying that they know what they’re talking about, and what they talk about they know, and they have reasons and purposes for talking about what they know.

In this regard, it is worth remarking that what occurs is not really a division of linguistic labor at all. Instead, what is involved is the social division of mental (or better yet, cognitive) labor: some of us are auto mechanics and know what “accelerator pump” means…whereas still others are physicists who know what “black hole” means.

Was it imaginable in 1979 that there would be a technology that any person could carry around in their pockets and use to find out what “accelerator pump” means? Maybe, maybe not.

…as Putnam insists, [this division of cognitive labor] represents facts about social organization of labor at a certain stage of historical development.

And so the World Wide Web not only up-ended the cognitive division of labor, but it up-ended that division as an ossification of a social organization, parts of which had already become outmoded, but were hanging around not out of pure inertia but because certain groups had an interest in that social organization remaining the same. Boyd is interested in an account of linguistic change in the philosophy of science by Hilary Putnam, a discussion to which I don’t have nonpassive epistemic access. But which I’m happy to look up.