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How much will local/university groups benefit from targeted EA content creation?

by Linch 1 min read15th Feb 202022 comments

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When I reflect back on my experiences at South Bay EA, the one thing that would save us so much time (that we can then use for non-scalable activities like 1:1s) is if we had high quality pre-made discussion sheets.

(To be clear, this is still an ongoing problem).

It takes us ~3-12 hours to make a typical discussion sheet for one meetup.

Naively, it would be really helpful if CEA or a crowdsourced group (eg, this forum) worked on creating high-quality discussion sheets that would save us 90% of the effort.

I could imagine other content being helpful as well, for example ("intro to EA" emails), event descriptions etc (though some of them are material you can easily crib from other EA groups listed on meetup.com and Facebook).

Reasons against this being particularly useful:

1. Heterogeneity of EA groups's needs: It might just be really hard to prepare useful sheets for an "EA local group (or university group)" in the abstract, since different local groups differ so much in knowledge of EA, demographic composition, schedules, timing preferences etc.

Ex. In South Bay, I've used examples from tech to illustrate cognitive biases in our instrumental rationality discussions (I think this is reasonable since ~100% of people who come to our EA events in Silicon Valley have a passing familiarity with tech). We also try to cater to people who have moderate familiarity and interest in EA, rather than try to "hard sell" EA to an unsympathetic audience, or be very useful to professional EAs (the latter because professional EAs rarely attend, rather than as a deliberate choice).

There's also a related problem where trying to serve an EA audience in the abstract might end up being just worse than local groups creating their own sheets and sharing knowledge, since there's more feedback from reality in the latter version.

2. The process of doing content creation is actually really good/necessary to develop organizer's understanding. I definitely learned a lot from making sheets/event introductions, especially in fields I had little prior knowledge in (eg, population ethics, moral uncertainty, systematized creativity). If we had pre-made sheets, maybe we'll have horrible illusions of transparency, and the organizers will convey a lot of wrong information about the topic or EA to our members.

3. Adoption concerns Even if {CEA, this forum} do end up creating material that's better than what 99% of groups can make for ourselves + save them 50-80% of the effort, it might still not be adopted and waste a lot of time.

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3 Answers

The 2019 Local Group Organizers Survey found large percentages of organizers reporting that more "written resources on how to run to run a group" and "written resources on EA thinking and concepts" would be highly useful.

EAHub has a large and growing list of resources collected and written for local groups.

It looks like you're creating some pretty high-quality resources! I can see why they're fairly time intensive.

Have you shared these with other local groups before now? Have they been adopted or adapted there?