1060 karmaJoined Jun 2019


Sorry I'm late to the party- as per the OP's request for short takes with no explanation, mine is that this is probably not worth doing, fwiw.

One impression I could imagine having after reading this post for the first time is something like: "eca would prefer fewer connections to people and doesn't value that output of community building work" or even more scandalously, "eca thinks community builders are wasting their time".

I don't believe that, and would have edited the draft to make that more clear if I had taken a different approach to writing it.

A quick amendment to that vibe.

  1. Community building is mission critical. It's also complicated, and not something I expect to have good opinions about currently, overall, because of lack of context and careful thought, among other things.
  2. I have personally found these types of introductions enormously valuable, especially in other phases of my career, and it would make me very sad if people turned them off!
  3. Even if I didn't find them personally valuable, I'd guess that they were still very valuable overall because I expect this to be person and context dependent, and I see others get value.
  4. Even if more should be invested in work connections overall, its not clear that the folks sending me intros (THANK YOU!! PLEASE DON'T STOP!) should be the ones doing the collaboration themselves ("Have you worked with [Someone] on anything? Or do you know anyone who has?"). Gains from specialization could imply that the folks making intro connections should focus on that, and others should do more deliberate working on stuff.
  5. Rather, my nebulous aim is some combo of A) sharing what my intuitions (narrowly trained) say the marginal effect of trading intros for work experience would be, for me, B) gesturing at an opportunity for even more value to be produced by community builders, if my experience generalizes and C) hoping selfishly that someone will help me understand whats going on here, so I quite complaining about it to my dinner companions before impulsively writing a forum post.

Not sure how much of this is in my head, but thats a thing.

Meta note: this was an experiment in jotting something down. I've had a lot of writers block on forum posts before and thought it would be good to try erring on the side of not worrying about the details.

As I'm rereading what I wrote late last night I'm seeing things I wish I could change. If I have time, I'll try writing these changes as comments rather than editing the post (except for minor errors).

(Curious for ideas/approaches/ recommendations for handling this!)


This seems like a great idea- I actually woke up this morning realizing I forgot it from my list!

One part of my perspective which is possibly worth reemphasizing: IMO, what you choose to work together does not need to be highly optimized or particularly EA. At least to make initial progress in this direction, it seems plausible that you should be happy with anything challenging/ without an existing playbook, collaborative, and “real” in the sense of requiring you to act like you would if you were solving a real problem instead of playing a toy game.

So in this case, while “EA should host hackathons” seems reasonable and exciting to me, especially as a downstream goal if working together turns out o be really useful, it doesn’t need to block easier stuff. I dont think a shortage of good hackathon prompts or organizers should stop groups of EAs from voting on the most interesting local hackathon run by someone else, going together as a group, and teaming up to work on something (with an EA lens if you want). Thats just extremely low cost to try out.

(Im also noticing that “Host an awesome EA hackathon” seems like type of collaborative, challenging project a person could team up on!)

thanks for the kind words! I agree that we didn't have much good stuff for ppl to do 4 yrs ago when i started in bio but don't feel like my model matches yours regarding why.

But I'm also wanting to confirm I've understood what you are looking for before I ramble.

How much would you agree with this description of what I could imagine filling in from what you said re 'why it took so long':

"well I looked at this list of projects, and it didn't seem all that non-obvious to me, and so the default explanation of 'it just took a long time to work out these projects' doesn't seem to answer the question"

(TBC, I think this would be a very reasonable read of the piece, and I'm not interpreting your question to be critical tho also obviously fine if it is hahah)

meta note- its super cool to see all this activity! but the volume is makin me a bit stressed and i probably won't be trying to respond to lots even if i do one sporadically. does not mean i am ignoring you!

Well I hope it works out for ya! Thanks haha

In case you are looking for content and have interests similar to me I like the following for audio:

  • Institute for Advanced Study lectures (random fun science)
  • Yannic Kilcher (ML paper summaries)
  • Wendover Productions/ Kurzgesagt (random probably not as useful but interesting science and econ funfacts)
  • LiveOverflow (Security)

And i find that searching for random academics names is more likely to turn up lectures/ convos than podcasts


Are you looking for shovel ready bounties (eg write them up and you are good to go) or things which might need development time (eg figuring out exactly what to reward, working out the strategy of why the bounty might be good etc)?


FWIW this seems like a reasonable idea to me and I would be pretty sad if no one at e.g. Givewell had even considered it.

Answer by ecaNov 02, 202171
  • Order groceries online! Maybe this is obvious but I have the impression not as many ppl do this as they should. Saves me at least 1 hr (usually closer to 2) for < $20
  • Pay for a bunch of disk space. I find it generates a lot of overhead to have files in different places. For me, the solution has been a high performance workstation plus remote desktop forwarding to my laptop when I travel so I can always have the same disk and workspace
  • Buy more paid apps/ premium upgrades/ digital subscriptions. I haven’t done the math on this so might not be as good as I think, but I have the impression that time spent watching adverts ads up and that in general apps are underpriced/ people have irrational behavior around eg not buying the $5 app they would have been excited for if free. A big one for me is Premium Youtube which lets you listen to videos with the screen off and gives me access to all youtube lectures as if they were podcasts (there are a surprising number of high quality informational videos that can be listened to!)
  • Related to above: make slack time more useful by listening to stuff. Mix of podcast, audiobooks, youtube and text to speech of articles. I use a mix of Pocket, Speechify and Voicedream for the latter. I invested in noise-cancelling earbuds and (separately) found some pretty cheap earbuds you can wear in the shower
  • extra battery packs and unlimited data plan to allow for work time in more places. For same reason, laptop with long battery life. I couldnt find anything better than the newest macbook pro M1.
  • pay for flights at times which work better and reduce time in transit. Your comfort/ restedness affects productivity. Also plane wifi.
  • give yourself a budget for productivity experiments that feel speculative. Many of the above were discovered by spending that budget, a lot of other things failed but its worth it for the wins
  • stop worrying about late fees (within reason). Most of the time the fees for things like late registration at a uni are small relative to not needing to occupy your brain with those sorts of deadlines
  • pay for excercise/ hobbies that increase your wellbeing + energy. For me this is climbing
  • buy extra of things you lose frequently. This is an embarrassing one but I cannot for the life of me keep track of sleep masks, for example. I have like >6 pairs now lol, but there is usually one when I need it. If you are scatterbrained like me, this is worth it for cheap things.
  • corollary of above: don’t waste time looking for cheap things you’ve lost, just buy another.

I think I have a few more I’m forgetting but I will stop there for now.

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