Adam Steinberg

Previous to my 15+ years as an international educator presenting chiefly English Language and Literature in Germany and Wales, I held a range of roles in editing, writing and project management, mostly in line with education and some in the philanthropic realm, in Chicago, Seattle and NYC. Highlights include serving as editor-in-chief an annual magazine for Earth Day Chicago, editing technical articles for Microsoft, and producing (product managing) award-winning educational software for Edmark.

For some months I have been pursuing a career shift into a communications, outreach, movement-building or related role in or near the EA space. (If it involves education, so much the better.) This effort recently bore some tasty fruit: I will be (part-time) communications lead for the Charity Elections Initiative, a project cultivated by Giving What We Can and now supported by the EA Infrastructure Fund.

Current interests related to EA include deepening my understanding of expected value where it seems problematic, exploring and developing the stories we use to bring EA to a wider audience, and looking at current thinking around the application of EA approaches and ideas in secondary school contexts (including green clubs) and the working world.

I'm also a volunteer editor for Kiva.org, on the Comms Team for High Impact Professionals, and an amateur songwriter (www.lyricist.net) with musical theatre cred in the form of a Tisch MFA and various readings in Chicago and NYC. Meanwhile, writing and editing stuff can be glimpsed at www.adamedit.com.

Topic Contributions

Comments

Why you should contribute to Giving What We Can as a writer or content creator (opportunities inside!)

Thanks again for your initial thoughts.

The post is now posted -- here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/nJP2iLJZxjF8z8frw/a-case-for-targeted-introductions-to-effective-giving-for

Why you should contribute to Giving What We Can as a writer or content creator (opportunities inside!)

TARGETED INTRODUCTIONS TO EA FOR SPECIFIC AUDIENCES
 

ADDENDUM: The above post about "Targeted Introductions" has been moved to get its own feedback, to this location:  https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/nJP2iLJZxjF8z8frw/a-case-for-targeted-introductions-to-effective-giving-for

I would suggest that if this of interest to you, you link to and read that updated version. 

 

TL;DR - Slightly verbose  :-)  rationale for conducting a defined outreach effort, comprised of a series of articles targeted to and tailored for very specific audiences outside EA to orient them to effective giving. 

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Here's a concept relevant to this post as it offers one possible direction for EA writing. 

It is not unlikely something like this is already in the works somewhere in EA that I don't know about, and if so, I am sure the community will not let me remain uninformed.

(I was recommended to make this a full-on post rather than a reply, but I'd like to see what sort of feedback it gets here first.)

As marketers know, a specific target audience is easier to reach than a very broad one. You can choose a channel that already targets that audience with a message tailored to reader and context (e.g., a magazine about knitting reaches knitters particularly and quite efficiently). Plus, you might benefit from the medium itself if its ideas are trusted by and shared widely between people in that target population.

Meanwhile, there is much discussion, as EA increasingly meets the world, about how to disseminate information about the movement clearly, delicately—after all, you are asking people to examine their values—and in manageable doses. First impressions are oh-so important. You can see discussions about this around the forums. Examples include this Forum post, this podcast on this set of guidelines, portions of this Forum post—e.g., about the dangers of a “low-fidelity [first] exposure” with EA—and this video providing a teacher’s views on risks and solutions around external movement building.

So alongside any efforts to write content for a broad distribution, one might visualize a specific project to turn out a series of highly focused introductions to EA targeted towards specific audiences outside EA, written by or at least in the voice of an “insider,” and pitched to relevant publications.

The example that sparked this idea was an intro to EA written specifically for product managers by Clement Kao, speaking the language of its audience, making connections between their approaches and EA's that would, one hopes, make Kao's fellow product managers feel 1) well understood and 2) positively inclined towards EA.

This targeted outreach could be addressed to any community: Unitarian Universalists; sci-fi fans; AARP members, eSport gamers; you name it. But certainly EA has been looking to establish more momentum in reaching people in the workplace, and there are widely distributed publications within just about any professional community. As an example, consider how many developers’ eyeballs meet mass-distribution magazines like CODE or .NET.

Such a project could start by targeting the broadest and potentially most EA-aligned audiences—for our Market Testing team to identify, of course—and aim to be published in top specialized media for those groups. While containing a central common set of well crafted ideas and terminology, articles would differ in addressing the particular concerns of people in that target group, highlighting ways EA fits their world view and how its tenets can help them improve their work or their lives. 

For authentic insider voices, we might do well to mine the multitalented ranks of EA for writers to author articles on areas in which they have experience. 

Can anyone see a downside risk here? I haven’t so far, and it seems to me that, with careful attention to leading readers to further engagement with EA, such an effort might also cultivate a growing crop of EA groups in the workplace (or among any targeted groups).

A broader question is whether EA outreach would benefit from a far-reaching, coordinated program (perhaps with some elements like the above) to ensure a consistent, vetted message using consistent EA language—or continue to be accomplished as it is now, not badly, but ad hoc by various organizations within the community. Also, whether one particular organization, such as GWWC, would be the logical hub for such an undertaking.

 

 

(Thanks: David Reinstein for feedback on my early draft and Sunnie Huang for extra encouragement.)

The Effective Altruism Handbook

Aaron, has a .pdf of the new edition been made available? Thanks!

Flimsy Pet Theories, Enormous Initiatives

That reminds me of a charity I was faux-promoting to friends in high school: Bookmarks for the Poor.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

If you end up with a list of tools, you could add 'em to the chart I link to in the comment above. It's meant to collect just about everything important. If you'd like.

The Explanatory Obstacle of EA

[This is my first real Forum post; please have pity, folks, 'specially if I spend time on something self-evident. :-)  ]

This is such an important post, and timely as new charities arising from EA turn ever more outwards to engage the public. Gidon, it’s like you’ve been IN MY BRAIN, because I have been pondering a number of these issues for months, as some of my EA contacts can attest. I appreciate how clearly you have explained the issues and your conclusions.

In a conversation to today with Jack Lewars at One for the World, I concurred with his observation of the abundance of long, detailed explanations of EA that are available, and the lack of more accessible resources. Someone orienting to EA may well find this daunting: Plenty of six-hour podcasts, or articles that begin with the note that they are a 30-plus-minute read, or much longer, like when they include 95 pages of thoughtful comments. (Jack said something to the effect of, “I’ve had good night’s sleeps that were shorter than reading some of these articles.) Not to mention dozens of specialized Forums and Slacks devoted to intricate discussion of abstract ideas.

So you are so right. We need good, targeted pitches and definitions that are carefully crafted to characterize the movement as effectively as possible for the person who may be unfamiliar with or have the wrong impression about EA…and then to take action and use these religiously in presentations, videos and so on. (The “concise” quality of these messages is also key to engaging the listener in that carefully phrased message.)

A few thoughts:

First, in regards to #1, in my months of describing EA to others I find I rely often on pinning down the ultimate goal of EA a little more specifically than merely “doing good” or “helping others”, for example, “supporting life and health and reducing suffering,” or “saving lives, reducing suffering, and helping others live the fullest lives they can, free of poverty.” Might such a phrase be part of a fuller explanation or pitch on EA? It makes the helping more specific and immediate, providing a hook for the emotions.

Second, in regards to Bonus #1 on evidence and reason, to me these are important to mention in explaining that  decisions of effectiveness generally deemphasize emotion, proximity, and prominence in the news of the day. My thinking about altruism has changed since encountering EA in part as I now see how causes “close to my heart” loomed large in my past giving. So, as another motivation for mentioning evidence and reasoning, should this be more explicitly mentioned in longer pitches? 

And one suggestion: As an example of a concrete example of effective altruism, Deworm the World might rate a mention (Bonus #3). It brings with it a great narrative about schools and books and teachers, while forcing the listener to consider that the most effective charities may not be the ones that are the most intuitive or best publicized.

 

As I have learned more about EA, I started to create a table to help me get a broad picture of its many parts and to phrase it ways of thinking effectively. I have showed this to a few people and they thought it *might* be something that could be turned into a resource of some sort. Alternatively, maybe it will be seen as simply rehashing all the introductory materials on EA and therefore not worth much.

So I will link to the diagram here (edit access!) and invite people to make comments on it and/or hack away at it, especially to improve it in light of the considerations in this article. (I will also post it in the Editing and Review Forum.) It’s here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZUcoJ5yP1448TtKZnFD1tRIk7f2Og6qYI7nhNprY494/edit?usp=sharing  

Thanks!

Open Philanthropy is seeking proposals for outreach projects

This could lead to quite a bit of cost-effective positive impact on students, especially those who already have an interest in choosing a career that has positive social consequences. Many students, in my experience, would be very happy to consider higher-impact careers if they had a little wisely-presented encouragement at the right juncture. Such materials would not have to be extensive, and they could be tied to online content that goes deeper into the topic or even provides some interaction.

That said, the above OP call for proposals seems highly oriented towards students at elite schools, or elite students at other schools, and specifically is aimed at students heading for a university education. I might suggest that we should be considering how young people likely to enter other professions, be they white- or blue-collar, might benefit from an understanding of these topics (e.g., those listed above: EA, rationality, longtermism, and global catastrophic risk reduction). 

I will start a discussion on this in the proper forum...but this much larger group of future consumers/workers/influencers/voters should not be ignored. Charities need staff at many levels, and people in many vocations can incorporate these ideas into their work, giving, volunteering, and political activities. Is it too soon for EA to open up to a broader audience?