Rough notes on an idea for a potentially large, high-impact project: launching an EA-focused, online long-form newspaper
"News, articles, and interviews on doing the most good"
Concept: a news agency providing journalistic coverage of EA topics and organisations.
In the style of ...The Atlantic; Vox; the Economist; the New Yorker; Current Affairs.
Types of articles this could include:
I would love to read this. What a great idea. Pursue it!!
Thank you! I'm thinking now that I may try to launch a trial version of this next month!
I got this sense, but I could be wrong--
Does it need to start big to get big? Could you start small-- just you, just one or a few articles perhaps? I.e. https://sive.rs/infinity
e.g. https://dynomight.net/ started pretty recently and is well-known now
It could start small for sure! A cheap, maybe solo trial version would make good sense. I think the larger concept of the project benefits from scale though, to add credibility for interviewing people and a size of readership/ projection that could usefully compete for attention with current news sources on EA topics.
A rough explanation of the pilot project I am leading thanks to funding from the EA Infrastructure Fund.
To find the most effective ways in which people can improve their wellbeing, and to then share this information as simply and practically as possible.
How will this be done?
How is this valuable?
As a (very rough and likely flawed) back of the envelope calculation of the project’s value:
On this basis, a funded research project following EA/ rational norms of collecting and presenting evidence could produce self-help guidance that is significantly more useful than is what is currently available.
By providing the EA community with better advice, this project aims to produce a meaningful increase in community wellbeing.
This is very exciting! Great to see the EA Infrastructure Fund is funding work in this space. I've been working on a similar venture called Better (your project is most analogous to our research division). Feel free to reach out if you'd like to hear about my experiences or discuss collaboration!
It would be interesting to see which areas of life/well-being you will evaluate. We have a breakdown on our website! And also your prioritization method. We've created one which we're calling ABCD—audience, (net) benefits, certainty, and difficulty—which involves estimating and then multiplying the factors together. Loosely resembles the ITN and RICE frameworks.
A 2% well-being improvement seems pretty conservative, perhaps intentionally. Lynette reported adding 16.4 extra hours per month (a 10% increase assuming 160 hours worked per month), although I believe this was through self-reporting and not time tracking, and may not include survivorship bias and other adjustments. Still, I'd hope things like lighting adjustments are pretty high impact.
Thanks for reaching out! Better looks a very interesting project with a lot of scope for impact. I'll message you to discuss experiences/ collaboration possibilities more.
I'm currently building a long list of interventions and wellbeing areas that seem particularly promising so what exactly I'll evaluate is still somewhat up in the air. The same goes for an evaluation method - I expect I'll use some adaptation of an expected value calculation, possibly combined with a weighted factor model - but I need to do more work on this before settling on a method.
As for the estimates, I agree that hopefully they are pretty conservative and that's definitely intentional. Quality evidence on many of these things can be hard to come by so I think it's best to shoot low. Also worth noting that I don't think wellbeing improvements = productivity improvements so while I've estimated a 2% productivity increase, I'd expect the wellbeing increase to be higher (maybe closer to 5% - and 5% is a lot once you start spreading the information!).
Lighting adjustments are definitely on the long list of promising areas and is a recommendation I have high hopes for.
@josh-jacobson is also working on something similar.
Thanks Hauke! Yep, at https://derisked.org/.
There's also James Norris at https://www.upgradable.org/.
Thanks to you both for the pointers!
Aritcle idea posted here so I might be more likely to write it up properly in future. In the spirit of the best being the enemy of the good.
My relatively uninformed opinions on why some uni groups might be struggling to grow, or not growing as large/ fast as they could be...
2. I think there's good ways in which EA groups can (better) market their value to new students
The current model is plausibly a particularly large obstacle to poorer students. If you are already studying for a degree and working significant hours to cover bills, your time becomes precious enough that you need more than an interest in a topic to follow through with commitment. A fellowship may sound cool but it is also time-intensive with no clear benefit in comparison to your job that allows you to live a vaguely normal student life. Demonstrate value first.