vaidehi_agarwalla

I'm Product Manager at the EA Hub and a community builder based in Singapore. I have a BA in Sociology. I have a background in social movement theory and structural functionalism. Currently building career capital while doing meta and operations EA projects on the side.

/'vɛðehi/ or VEH-they-hee

Sequences

EA Career Advice on Management Consulting
EA Survey 2017 Series
EA Survey 2018 Series
AI Alignment Literature Review and Charity Comparison
EA Survey 2019 Series
Towards A Sociological Model of EA Movement Building

Comments

Analysis of EA funding within Animal Welfare from 2019-2021

What is the total amount of funding per year? I don't think I saw it in the post.

University EA Groups Should Form Regional Groups

Thanks for the clarification. I think we have different defintions of "people who set up the infrastructure" and "people who fill in the infrastructure".

For me: 

"people who set up the infrastructure" are not just people who come up with the idea but also who are involved in on-the-grounds getting your hands dirty setting up - e.g. setting up the initial concept, but then experimenting and refining the set-up as time goes on. This seems like fairly difficult work. This on-the-ground iteration requires a much higher time commitment and therefore I'd expect it to be harder to recruit for. 

Another distinction is the leader / core organiser of the infrastructure, who doesn't need to have set it up and so in some way is "filling the infrastructure" but probably needs to have certain skills. I think that this is also not going to be easy and requires people to pass some bar. 

University EA Groups Should Form Regional Groups

Secondly, and much more importantly, I think most of the benefit comes from having the basic infrastructure in place (!!!). This is the place where I expect people to most disagree with me...

 

Could you expand on this more?

I don't think you can have an infrastructure without the right people to set it up. Since this is a new model of support I think it would be important the founders would be strong and be able to experiment and set up a good system. But not sure if I'm misunderstanding your point here.

(Splitting my comments up since I have a few separate points)

University EA Groups Should Form Regional Groups

I'd be keen to see more 80/20 ideas like this setting up / faciliating group chats. Other ideas:

  • Organizing monthly calls or socials with regional groups (e.g. even just starting with the existing ones)
  • Interviewing organizers in a region and identifying any common challenges or synergies they could benefit from

I think this kind of thing can help to spark interest amongst the organizers in a region that this kind of work may be immediately beneficial to them / make it more likely for people to want to spend more time on coordination. 

University EA Groups Should Form Regional Groups

I think this idea makes sense and more coordination is good, especially for CB efforts. I think e.g. more formal coordination in the US (e.g. East Coast universities) would bring a lot of the benefits you outlined. Outside of the US I think Manuel's national org providing support model will likely make more sense, because national orgs are already fairly stable and for the other reasons he mentioned. 

I think the main reason this won't happen in practice (although I'd love to be wrong!) is:

  • Resources / Funding
    • This doesn't appear to be a priority for CEA's CB program. Their model is to have local groups, and then provide mentorship / support directly to their target groups or peer-to-peer via CB grantee-only channels or retreats
    • I'd (weakly) expect EAIF may have a high bar for funding this since it's a (somewhat) new model . I'd guess they would have a high bar for funding (e.g. the use case being really strong - e.g. supporting a region with a lot of groups or a team with a fairly strong track record). However, this coud be totally wrong and it would definitely be worth applying for funding and seeing what would happen.
  • Talent
    • RE: "Firstly, I think finding people is not that hard."
      • +1 to "it's hard to get people" :
      • I think CB as a career path is not a very stable / predictable path right now (although that will hopefully improve with time)
      • I think it's difficult to find people who are interested in coordination alone vs other CB activities
    • Also : "and anyone can step up at any time to take up some of the responsibilities."
      • From my experience this is not the case. Doing handovers, especially for new/small projects is not that simple.
      • Especially if the work is unpaid, but even if paid.
    • RE: "I think it's totally possible to run a regional group without any main coordinator."
      • I disagree .
      • I think you may be a little too optimistic about people's interest in / willingness to do coordination work (although I wish we were all operations nerds, that simply isn't the case).
      • It could be fairly inefficient to have a lot of people split time over this, from a logistical perspective (e.g.  it's easy to waste a lot of time coordinating coordination activities, if that makes sense). I think a better model would be to have a few dedicated people who can do the coordination really well.  Perhaps 1-2 people spending >50% of their time on this.
      • I think it's plausible that people might end up wasting time if the region is not sufficiently large enough to support more formal activities, and would rather see individuals experimenting with smaller things (e.g. see my 80/20 comment)
      • For all the above reasons, I'd expect funders to be more hesitant to see several organizers splitting time over 1 regional group
      • If you lack proper funding or a formal accountability structure you risk the regional group dying out or being less active

Meta-level side-comment: I like that you have diagrams & the overall structure of the post. I would say most of my points below come from pragmatic issues that may not be easy to know when you're just starting (I think if I'd written a post about infrastructure 2-3 years back I would have probably had many of the same assumptions / optimism. I have since changed my mind on many of those things)

EA Survey 2020: Demographics

Looking farther back at the data, numbers of valid responses from self-identified EAs: 
~1200  in 2014,~2300 people in 2015, ~1800 in 2017 and then the numbers discussed here suggest that the number of people sampled has been about the same. 

Comments: 

  • Not sure about the jump from 2014 to 2015, I'd expect some combination of broader outreach of GWWC, maybe some technical issues with the survey data (?) and more awareness of there being an EA Survey in the first place?
  • I was surprised that the overall numbers of responses has not changed significantly from 2015-2017. Perhaps it could be explained by the fact that there was no Survey taken in 2016?
  • I would also expect there to be some increase from 2015-2020, even taking into account David's comment on the survey being longer.  But there are probably lots of alternative explanations here. 
  • I was going to try and compare the survey response to the estimated community size since 2014-2015, but realised that there don't seem to be any population estimates aside from the 2019 EA Survey. Are estimates on population size in earlier years?
EA Survey 2020: Community Information

RE: "More community/influence":

For becoming more of a community, it seems like this could be read as a negative (e.g. people don't feel welcome by the existing community, while the latter sounds quite positive - people are happy with the way the community influences and want more of it? 

So I could imagine that might be reason for giving this factor both positive or negative rating

EA Survey 2020: Community Information

This is all really useful, especially the second point regarding actual vs. perceived behaviors. 

I do think there are some similarities between all these points that I'd maybe categorise under "elitist"  (although I don't want to because I think that term has different connotations for people). But perhaps something like "EAs are perceived as being better than non-EAs" an this is expressed as the items I mentioned. 

But perhaps it wouldn't be possible to draw these inferences without the comments themselves, where I'd imagine people discussed these overlapping topics.

I've updated the category name for now based on the above + split the lack of interest from what you mentioned in point 3. 

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