Reflections on Less Online

post by Error · 2024-07-07T03:49:44.534Z · LW · GW · 12 comments

Contents

  Lighthaven
  Events
  Miscellaneous observations
  Suggestions
  Personal notes
  Some things I did
  Anti-Akratic Abnormalities
  Shoutouts
  Celebrities
  Last Thoughts
None
12 comments

Meta: This post turned out longer, slower, and less well-written than I hoped. I don’t see any similar posts in a quick search, though, so I'm posting it anyway. I’ve tried to front-load feedback that might be useful to the organizers, and put more personal stuff towards the end. For context, I attended LessOnline and the Manifest-branded Summer Camp, but not Manifest itself, and my main prior experience with events like this is fandom conventions such as (local to me) Dragoncon.


As I left the Lighthaven dorm to find breakfast, five people at a table in the courtyard invited me to join a game of Zendo. This was the first notable thing to happen to me at LessOnline. It was also the thing that convinced me that yes, the trip across the country to attend would be Worth It.

I have never played Zendo before, and don’t expect to play it again anytime soon. That the game was specifically Zendo is not important. The important part is that five people in the same place knew what Zendo is and found that kind of game worth playing.

There’s an attitude that I associate with normies, aptly summarized by Tycho Brahe (the writer, not the astronomer) as: “Many people respond to new information, especially densely coded information, as something between an insult and a chop to the trachea.”

There’s a different attitude, one that I associate with security mindset, aptly summarized by John Gordon as: “Alice will happily attempt, with someone she doesn't trust, whom she cannot hear clearly, and who is probably someone else, to fiddle her tax returns and to organise a coup d'etat, while at the same time minimising the cost of the phone call. A coding theorist is someone who doesn't think Alice is crazy.”

A lot of things happened over the course of my trip, but what made it worth it wasn’t any particular event. It was spending a week around the sort of people that play Zendo, take dense coding in stride, and think Alice is a necessary kind of crazy.

Lighthaven

First and most critical to minimizing P(doom), look at the adorable doggie!

My brother asked me why I was not currently hugging this dog.

His name is Leo. As best I could tell from asking others, he’s not attached to the site, he hails from one of the adjacent properties and just likes the people. He belongs to a Lighthaven maintenance person with excellent taste in dogs. I was going to nominate him as the LessOnline mascot, but must admit that Agendra [LW · GW] might be more appropriate.

Ahem. So.

Lighthaven (the venue) names all its buildings after mathematicians, and the space looks exactly like you would expect a mathematician to want it to look. Every wall was a whiteboard; every not-otherwise-used flat surface held books along the lines of GEB. The public spaces were organized in such a way as to encourage 4-8 person conversations, usually near a whiteboard. The semiprivate dorms supplied more Stuff than the average hotel (e.g. I brought things like earplugs and sleep masks, only to find that was taken care of). The presentation room seating was surprisingly comfortable. The outdoor turf was easy on the feet (I went almost all week shoeless, which feels nicer than you’d think). Food was catered, snacks were available 24/7, supply cabinets held a wide array of random necessities. Power plugs were everywhere. In short, someone put considerable thought into eliminating the stupid fiddly bits of life in general and conventions in particular.

That last part seems more important than is obvious. An obnoxiously large proportion of life goes towards 1. doing the stupid fiddly bits, 2. procrastinating about doing the stupid fiddly bits, and 3. worrying about procrastinating too much about doing the stupid fiddly bits. Even at conventions, that’s usually an issue, because I have to pack and fly and unpack and make sure I know where food and water is and that all my stuff is charged and that there’s a backup plan for when it’s 2am and I skipped dinner and everything is closed.

Lighthaven took care of most of that. Getting there and back was a hassle, but once there, aside from basic hygiene, most of the stupid fiddly bits of life were not my problem. There was nothing nagging at the back of my mind to demand attention. My plate was empty, and I felt free to think.

I don’t know how much of that is lighthaven-specific vs. LessOnline-specific. I do know that I appreciated the full-service approach. The value of having something done for you is not just the time you save by not having to do it. For most tasks, that barely matters. It’s the brainwidth you save by not having to keep that task in cache, not having to swap it in and out. It’s the house of cards that didn’t fall over.

Events

The schedule started out (mostly?) empty. Anyone who wanted to run a session could add it to the schedule themselves. The resulting range of subjects was much wider than I expected. Rather than give a list of interesting stuff I’ll just link to the schedule itself. That just about anything seemed to be allowed helped me feel comfortable running a couple sessions of my own, described in more detail further down.

A recurring theme for me was trying to participate in extended events and not following through.

I took a shot at the puzzle hunt, but realized early on that I couldn’t finish it. The price in missed events of doing it “right” would be too high. Doing it wrong was still fun as hell [LW · GW], though!

I showed up for the hackathon kickoff, but wrote no code. Programming takes time I couldn’t spare. This was disappointing but I don’t regret it.

I signed up for the quant bootcamp, but stopped halfway through. One part exhaustion, one part too many conflicting events, one part “nearly broke my toe early in the second day”[1]. I felt pretty bad about this one; Ricki is a fantastic teacher and my dropping out probably hurt the rest of the class via reduced simulated competition.

The common factor in all cases was sky-high opportunity costs; there were too many things to do and I can only be in one place at one time. That is a good problem for an event to have.[2]

Some of the scientifically-themed sessions (I’m thinking of Gene Smith’s sessions, but there were plenty of others) wouldn’t have been out of place in Dragoncon’s science track. Just saying.

My partner wanted me to check out the Goth 101 session just to see what was covered. Sadly, I could not, because it conflicted with Scott Alexander reading from the newly-published version of Unsong. I felt bad for the presenter; there might have been less fortunate sessions to be scheduled against, but I can’t think what.

The most surprisingly-positive event was Hot Seat and its reprise. I hadn’t heard of the game before. Each person, for their turn, spent a few minutes on the clock getting asked the sort of questions that most polite people don’t discuss with anyone but their therapist—or maybe their spouse, if they aren’t that repressed.[3] It wasn’t always fun, but it was...a thing I’m glad I participated in.

The most surprising quasi-omission was tech; there were far fewer tech-related sessions than I expected. Perhaps I overestimate how tech-centric LessWrongers are. Or perhaps most of us just get our fix of that somewhere else.

My favorite single event was the Fooming Shoggoth concert. As Scott once put it in a Solstice context: “There are only a few hundred people in the world who would possibly enjoy this and they are my people and I love every last one of them.” I don’t suppose the playlist is available? I found some of it on Spotify but it seems incomplete.

(my favorite session name was “Expecting Expected Value”. Those who were there will understand why)

Miscellaneous observations

The biggest difference between LO and other conventions I’ve been to: Usually, most of my time is spent listening to speakers in sessions. At LO I spent much more (and more rewarding) time talking with others in the common areas.

LO’s size seems close to optimal. At somewhere between one and three monkeyspheres, it was large enough that there were always new people to meet, but small enough to regularly run into those I’d previously met. Larger events (e.g. Dragoncon) feel anonymous in a lot of ways; you can’t continue an interesting conversation with someone if you never run into them again.

Some individual sessions were nonetheless overcrowded. The way fan conventions seem to deal with this problem is to schedule over-popular events in the same block. That wouldn’t square with the “anyone can schedule anything” mechanic, though. This feels like it should be a solvable problem, but I don’t know the solution.

I do worry that if LO recurs, it may quickly grow “too big”—too far beyond the monkeysphere, or just plain too big for Lighthaven to comfortably accomodate. In my experience, overcrowding is an attractor state for conventions.

The sense of environmental trust was much closer to gatherings within my social circle than to what I would normally think of as a convention. People left their personal items wherever, and didn’t worry about what happened to them, even with relatively expensive things like laptops. I’m sure part of this was “if you can afford to attend a $400-$1000 event, you’re not going to bother with petty theft”, but still, the degree of tacit trust of fellow attendees was remarkable.

What to do with my laptop was a hard problem for a different reason: Hauling my backpack everywhere is annoying, but trying to take notes on a phone is even more annoying. And I found that I wanted to take a lot of notes. Probably another good problem for an event to have.

There was a presentation on recent genetic optimization advances. Anywhere else, I would expect Q&A contributions of the form: “how does this interact with {insert culture war issue here}”. Here, I instead heard (for example) “What are your research bottlenecks and how much money would it take to make them not be bottlenecks?” I couldn’t help but think that that kind of question is part of what makes this crowd our crowd.

LessWrong favors Ask Culture [LW · GW] and I tried to remember that throughout the weekend. I kept a low bar for requesting things of the staff, trusting to them to refuse if necessary. It seemed to work fine.

I signed up for LessOnline and the Manifest-branded summer camp, but not for Manifest itself. I expected the camp to be mostly “LessWrong people staying for the following event as well”, and that seemed accurate. The interactions I had on the first day of Manifest (before I left to catch my flight home) suggested an incoming crowd that feels less my own—none of them were bad, but my internal impression was something like “wait a sec, techbros are actually a thing that exists, not just a nerd-shaming caricature? Huh?” My sample size was small, though, so I don’t trust that impression. I’ll probably do Manifest next year (if there is a next year) just on VOI grounds.

I gathered after the fact that the Manifest night market was mostly (entirely?) a job market. I wish I’d realized that at the time; I’m not exactly on the market but I’m thinking about it.

Suggestions

Complaints Box

Since it's too late to use the Complaints Romantic Solid, here are some things I found myself wishing for often enough to stick in my head. I presume the organizers have long since done their own post-mortem, but hopefully something in here is still useful:

Provide lecterns and microphones for presenters. I ran two sessions and never had a good place to put the laptop running the slide deck. And while I can project my voice well enough if I try, not everyone can do that effectively.[4] The Dragoncon tech track sometimes uses a padded wireless mic that can be thrown to whoever wants to speak, which is very useful for recorded Q&A. Or any Q&A.

(while the audio setups or lack thereof left something to be desired, the video setups were much better than I’m used to. Most conferences don’t seem to grasp the idea that people in the back should still be able to see the entire screen)

Speaking of recording, record sessions for which that would be useful and make slide decks available...if practical. I know this is much harder to do right than it sounds. But it would reduce the need for laptop-hauling considerably.

More powerful AC units for the dorms. My initial horror at the lack of central air was admittedly misplaced, but if by ill luck the whole week had been like Tuesday, sleeping on-site would have been a much less pleasant experience.

Most of the outdoor areas were sock-and-barefoot-friendly; it would be nice if that were true everywhere, though I suppose it’s not that important. Also, consider doing something about that two-inch step between the Bayes kitchen and the room behind it. Ow.

Maybe more lapdesks for the common areas, but I’m not actually sure if that would be net-positive. Good for working on things, but the lack probably discourages talking to devices rather than people.

Edit: Provide space on the member badges for LW handles where those differ from one's legal name, or just print them with both. Mine had my legal name only, which zero people would recognize.

I see no obvious way on the site to send Lightcone money, or to otherwise contribute to this happening again, and I would like to. What do I do?

Personal notes

Meta: The rest of this is less relevant to LessOnline as a whole. Anyone reading for feedback-acquisition purposes can skip down to Last Thoughts.

As the saying goes, if you’re the smartest person in the room, find a room with smarter people in it. I had that squarely in mind when I decided to make the trip. It delivered. There aren’t a lot of contexts where I’m in the bottom half of the local IQ distribution, and I loved it.

I found the infohazards session unreasonably amusing, and generally liked the idea of infohazard discussion corresponding to late night ghost stories. Clearly I am a moron. The smartest person in that room was the one who ducked out to avoid the relationship-related infohazards, and, when they returned, checked with the organizer that the board was clear of same before looking at it. (The actual smartest person at LessOnline presumably didn’t attend the infohazards session to begin with, because why would you do that?)

The most interesting hotseat question (of those directed at me) was something like “what do you consider your three biggest mistakes?” I should have answered “getting on this hotseat”, but I didn’t think of it until it was too late. My actual answers (spoken and unspoken) were interesting, though, because I noticed a pattern: they were all of the form “waiting so long to do X”. I can probably learn something from that.

The funniest hotseat question (again of those directed at me) was: “If you had to pick someone in this room to slap, who would it be?” To which I answered, (paraphrased): “Everyone’s expecting me to point at that guy, including that guy. I pick me instead.”

(I stole that answer from HPMOR and I’m not sorry.)

Actually there was an even funnier moment at the reprise, of which the asker told me later that he didn’t have to ask that question any more because the funniest possible thing had already happened. Sadly the question was NSFW so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that it is possible to crack up a room by turning one’s head in just the right direction at just the right time; and, on a completely unrelated note, thank you Aella for being Aella.

I wish I’d attended the Hamming Circle; it might have been similarly interesting. I can’t remember what I was doing instead.

The population was 80-90% male, and that feels sad, but I don’t know that much can be done about it. It did make me reluctant to make a pass at anyone, for fear that (among other reasons) the lopsided gender ratio would make me Annoying Guy #37. I did so anyway on one occasion, but that was in a context where social barriers were deliberately lowered.

(she and her partner were monogamous, so it didn’t go anywhere, but we chatted off and on for the rest of the week anyway. It had the unexpected effect of making me feel like an ambassador for open-spectrum relationships—a position I’m ill-qualified for, but I tried to be on my best behavior anyway)

Something came up in the quant lessons that I might write about later: I asked for books on the subject, and Ricki noted that reading about it was the wrong way to learn it. I agreed, but noted that I was only able to absorb the information at such speed because I was already at least somewhat familiar with the concepts from prior reading.

(Ricki’s a great teacher, and if she does it again next year then anyone with any interest in the subject should jump on it, but it was a very dense curriculum, and also holy shit she talks like a machine gun. :-P)

Anyway, I gathered from the exchange that we have very different learning styles (I forget the details), and I know from prior experience that some people have the same issue with text that I have with voice, which is interesting but I don’t have packaged thoughts on it it yet.

Another subject I want to think on later: Conventioneering alone vs. with a partner. My partner couldn’t make it, and while that was a bit of a shame[5], I suspect that conventioneering alone is more condusive to serendipity. Socially, it feels easy(-ish) to approach small groups, slightly harder to approach individuals, much harder to approach couples. Logistically, it’s much easier to Do Things when you don’t have to coordinate them with anyone. And not having existing social support to fall back on forces one to sink or swim...with the natural result of more “swimming.” I’m not sure how much of a difference that actually makes (this is the first time I’ve been conventioneering alone in six or seven years, and the last time was a very different convention), but it seems like the effect would be greater than zero.

Whenever I spend a bunch of time in a LW context, I find myself wishing that I could do something more direct for the AI problem, or the community, or something else in the same general sphere. Sadly my primary skillset (backend devops, more or less) is neither applicable to the important problems nor in locally short supply, and even if it were, I think it would take more to persuade me to move to the Bay Area than my skills are worth.

Some things I did

I made an unconventional contribution to the puzzle hunt, but I’ve written about that elsewhere [LW · GW] so I won’t repeat the details here.

I ran two sessions. I didn’t plan to, they just sort of happened: I said something about how it would be fun to do a session on subject X, at least one person encouraged me to actually do it, I threw it on the schedule, I realized I had no slide deck and no idea how to do public speaking, and I fixed that on incredibly short notice.

(Heartfelt thanks to anyone who nudged me; doing things is hard and nudging helps. Also, any feedback that goes beyond ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ is valuable right now, precisely because I’ve never done this before and have no intuitive sense of what worked and what didn’t.)

The first I called “Video Game Archeology”, and it was a talk that I’ve thought of doing at Dragoncon for years but never tried to pitch. It was on the trials and tribulations of trying to mod old cartridge games. It had no rationalist relevance other than the opaqueness of the problem space. But I wanted to run it, and Less Wrong is a nerd space even if it’s not specifically a gamer space, so I thought there might be non-zero interest. Apparently all it took was the audacity to put it on the schedule, the willingness to ask my brother for help finding or producing visual aids (thanks!), and the sacrifice of a night of sleep.

The audience was tiny but the presentation itself went well enough. I don’t think the small audience was (entirely) lack of interest; I kept running into people who said (semi-unprompted) that they’d seen it on the schedule and considered attending, but either forgot about it or had a conflict.

Throwing a presentation together overnight was exhausting, so of course I did it again a few days later.

The second I titled “Major Psychotic Hatreds”. It was a rant on modern technology trends—on the web, mostly—in the style of the opener from George Carlin’s You Are All Diseased. Because telling a room full of people that things they have probably worked on suck is a brilliant idea and nothing can possibly go wrong.

The small audience from my first session bothered me, but I had an idea. I'd previously overheard someone mention a sudden influx of visitors to their blog, induced by a link from Aella. I thought I saw a way to exploit that celebrity effect: I scheduled my session right after Aella’s marshmallow fight, in the same room. With little going on that late, the least inconvenient thing for the Marshmallow Legion to do afterward would be to stay for my session. Feels like cheating, but cheating is technique.

(Also it gave me an excuse to go to the marshmallow fight. Not that I needed one.)

It worked, sort of. I ended up with a mostly-full room, but mostly not in tech. I’m not sure how many of the jokes actually landed, and I’m not sure how many of the serious bits were understood. And, obviously, I’m no Saint George on the delivery.

But it seemed to go well, with one embarrassing exception: I expected that everything I complained about would have been done by somebody in the audience, but I did not expect that (almost) everything I complained about would have been done by the same guy—who also wasn’t familiar with the deadpan-hostility style of Carlin’s that I was aping. This was a bit like choosing specks [LW · GW] and then finding out that all the specks hit the same person.

It turned out fine, we had a nice chat about design afterward. But I felt bad about it.

Anti-Akratic Abnormalities

I notice, in the aftermath of the event, that I spent a vastly larger portion of the time at LO feeling mentally “on” and generally doing things than is typical for me. I spontaneously put together two presentations in two days while solving logic puzzles and sabotaging the plotline behind the logic puzzles. I wrote up the story of the sabotage in a few hours. I made more new personal connections in seven days than I have in the last seven years. In a campus full of strangers I went a whole week without feeling lonely! And none of it required any deliberate motivational hacking. I was admittedly on low-dose stimulants for most of the week[6], but those can’t be the primary cause, because I use them regularly for work without anywhere near that level of effect.

Like most everyone else here, I struggle with Doing Things—for example, creating this post, which took a month. I’d like to know what about LO made Doing Things easier, so I can replicate it at somewhat lower cost than flying cross-country. I’ve come up with the following possibilities; I don’t know their relative importance:

  1. The people. I could assume high intelligence and shared conceptual background. I never felt like I had something to say, but no one to say it to that would care. I never felt like I had to be on my guard for shoulder-chipped culture warriors. This can’t be the whole story (the Atlanta ACX meetups attract a similar-ish crowd without thus far inspiring similar effects), but it’s probably part of it.
  2. The event structure. LO was small enough and long enough to build context over multiple interactions. I think this was a large part of the extra value in the between-events summer camp.
  3. The physical environment. Lighthaven is intentionally(?) designed to promote interesting conversations, and it shows.
  4. A critical mass of different events. There was always something happening worth straining my brain. Again can’t be everything, but seems relevant.
  5. No distractions. It felt like what John Nerst describes as an (unobtainable) empty plate. No chores or social obligations, no work pings, no shoulder taps. No voice in the back of my head telling me, “no, you can’t think about this right now, you have to think about lunch and dinner and groceries and unopened mail and filing FSA receipts and messages that need answering and the ping your boss just sent you and dinner will be soon and you need to call Dad for Father’s Day and the cats need feeding and no I’m not going to shut up about any of these things ever.”

I’m not sure what else. But something in this soup was good for me. I can’t point to a specific piece, because any individual piece, I do get in other contexts. Just not all at once.

Shoutouts

Due to logistic failures on my part, I didn’t need to leave for the airport until long after Summer Camp ended and Manifest started. Thankfully, the staff let me stay on campus later than I was supposed to, so that I wouldn’t be stuck at the airport for half a day. I didn’t go to any Manifest events, though; I didn’t want to abuse their generosity by attending things I hadn’t paid for.

Instead I spent Friday collecting the names of everyone I could find who’d made the trip better for me in some way, great or small. This list is definitely incomplete, but I tried. It’s roughly chronological:

Isabella and Rana probably made the biggest difference, since their encouragement prompted me to do things. Also the puzzlemasters, whose work was nothing short of epic. Honorable mention to anyone who came to my presentations, even if they didn’t stay, and even though I can’t tell the difference between sincere applause and social applause. It still helped.

Celebrities

I don’t usually do celebrity chasing, but with half the people whose blogs I follow at the event I wanted to at least see them.

Last Thoughts

I didn’t know about LessOnline until a few weeks beforehand. I had another high-octane event just the week before, so I knew my social batteries (and vacation budget) would already be strained. I jumped on the chance anyway. I’ve hung around Less Wrong and its diaspora for twelve years and I knew I’d regret missing the opportunity.

I’m used to conventions being an annual Thing. I hope LessOnline can become the same, though I gather it’s highly questionable whether this will happen again at Lighthaven, or at all.

Even if it was just once, though, it was worth it. Thank you everyone at Lightcone who arranged this, and everyone who made it work behind the scenes. You’re all awesome.


  1. That two-inch step between the Bayes Hall kitchen and the room behind it is...questionable, and my toe wants to punch it in the face. Again. ↩︎

  2. I miss the NSDM game at Dragoncon every year for more or less the same reason. ↩︎

  3. Hotseat was weirdly reminiscent of a practice of my old usenet stomping grounds, where we used to post and answer long surveys of NSFW personal questions. ↩︎

  4. I’m told that getting presenters to use the mic properly is hard, but that feels like a solvable problem. And having one at all means the option is there. ↩︎

  5. This is my tribe rather than hers, but she understandably wanted to come anyway. ↩︎

  6. Stimulants act as social lubricant for me, similar to the effects of alchohol on other people. To those I interacted with, be aware that the me you spoke to is far more outgoing than my usual baseline. ↩︎

  7. Subject matter intentionally omitted. Side note, is there a noun analogous to “infohazard” for topics likely to generate more heat than light, but without the hostile connotations of “mindkiller?” ↩︎

12 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Dalmert · 2024-07-07T11:06:29.763Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If anyone reading this feel like they missed out, or this sparked their curiosity, or they are bummed that they might have to wait 11 months for a chance at something similar, or they feel like that so many cool things happen in North America and so few things in Europe, (all preceding "or"s are inclusive) then I can heartily recommend you to come to LessWrong Community Weekend 2024 [Applications Open] [? · GW] in Berlin in about 2 months over the weekend of 13 September. Applications are open as of now.

I've attended it a couple of times so far, and I quite liked it. Reading this article, it seemed very similar and I begun to wonder if LWCW was a big inspiration for LessOnline, or if they had a common source of inspiration. So I do mean to emphasize what I wrote in the first paragraph: if you think you might like something as described here then I strongly encourage you to come!

(If someone attended both then maybe they can weigh in even more authoritatively whether my impression is accurate or if more nuance would be beneficial.)

Replies from: habryka4, jantrooper2, wilm
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2024-07-09T02:24:30.462Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I attended two LWCW weekends all the way back in 2013 and 2014!

Despite that, I don't actually think they were that big of an inspiration for at least my input into LessOnline. Other conferences and events that Lightcone organized were bigger influences, in particular two private events we ran in 2021 and 2022 (Sanity and Survival Summit and Palmcone).

comment by JanGoergens (jantrooper2) · 2024-07-08T22:04:56.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am pretty sure the common source was the CFAR workshops, that have unfortunately been discontinued. There was an experimental run in Europe as well (in Prague), but due to the Sam Bankman Fried fiasco, most of the funding has been pulled.

comment by wilm · 2024-07-07T19:52:38.554Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can add to that that there are still (quite some) spots available due to them renting out the whole youth hostel. I highly encourage applying.

comment by davekasten · 2024-07-08T19:25:09.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the things I greatly enjoyed about this writeup is that it reminded me how much the "empty-plate" vibe was lovely and something I want to try to create more of in my own day-to-day.  

Tangible specific action: I have been raving about how much I loved the Lighthaven supply cabinets.  I literally just now purchased a set of organizers shaped for my own bookcases to be able to recreate a similar thing in my own home; thank you for your reminder that caused me to do this.

Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2024-07-08T21:27:38.689Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, the source post for the plate metaphor is one of the more enlightening things I've gotten out of the rationalsphere outside of ACX or the Sequences.

I didn't get much out of the supply cabinets myself because I travel heavy, but I loved that they existed. The universal whiteboards I wish I could mimic, but most of my wallspace is spoken for. The high-quality display mounts are definitely something I want to copy if I can get away with it (does anyone know the model?), though I think my apartment complex might complain about me bolting equipment to the walls. 

Most useful specific amenity for me was the default availability of food/snacks/water/coke (though coke sometimes ran out). Personal fuel management is a substantial interrupter and brainwidth cost at most conventions.

ETA: I do wonder if I can get some of the "empty plate" effect at home by carving out specific days for "no obligation-processing (including social obligations)". Not a Sabbath-style day of rest from everything, just from "I need to handle X" things. The problem, of course, would be enforcing it in large enough blocks to be useful. Going cross-country for a week ties me to the mast in a way that might be difficult to replicate.

comment by Raemon · 2024-07-07T05:48:19.018Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Minor note:

His name is Leo. As best I could tell from asking others, he’s not attached to the site, he hails from one of the adjacent properties and just likes the people. I was going to nominate him as the LessOnline mascot, but must admit that Agendra [LW · GW] might be more appropriate.

Leo's owner is one of the maintenance-folk who help keep the venue in good repair. :)

Replies from: davekasten
comment by davekasten · 2024-07-08T19:04:52.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would like to politely request that if you happen to have a chance to tell Leo's owner that Leo is clearly a very happy dog that feels loved, could you please do so on my behalf ? 

comment by Raemon · 2024-07-07T06:09:29.302Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was really nice to read, thank you!

Re: 

I see no obvious way on the site to send Lightcone money, or to otherwise contribute to this happening again, and I would like to. What do I do?

For now, the best place is https://www.lesswrong.com/donate [? · GW]. (We used to link this from the sidebar but people didn't use it often enough to really justify the screen real-estate)

Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2024-07-08T21:14:14.822Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Set up a small monthly donation. Doubt it will help much on its own, but maybe enough others think like me that the sum will.

comment by Daniel Kokotajlo (daniel-kokotajlo) · 2024-07-08T14:52:44.859Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

aybar


Habryka i believe

Replies from: Error
comment by Error · 2024-07-08T21:09:05.023Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, fixed. I could swear I looked that up, I have no idea how I still got it wrong.