Request: Sequences book reading group

post by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T01:06:42.912Z · score: 20 (21 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 31 comments

The book version of the Sequences is supposed to be published in the next month or two, if I understand correctly. I would really enjoy an online reading group to go through the book together.

Reasons for a reading group:

I would recommend one new post per day, going in order of the book. I recommend re-posting the entire article to LW, including any edits or additions that are new in the book. Obviously this would require permission from the copyright holder (who is that? is there even going to be a copyright at all?), but I'm hoping that'll be fine.

I'd also recommend trying to make the barriers to entry as low as possible. As noted above, this means allowing people to ask questions / make comments without being required to have already read the later articles. Also, I suggest that people not be required to read all the comments from the original article. If something has already been discussed or if you think a particular comment from the original discussion was very important, then just link to it or quote it.

Finally, I think it would be very useful if some of the more knowledgeable LW members could provide links and references to the corresponding  "traditional" academic literature on each article.

Unfortunately, for various reasons I am unwilling to take responsibility for such a reading group. If you are willing to take on this responsibility, please post a comment to that effect below.

Thanks!

31 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-23T00:15:23.780Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Unnamed started Sequence Reruns back in 2011; they finished sometime in 2014, if I remember correctly.

My impression is that people found them useful, but that they didn't really kick off much discussion, and the discussions that they did kick off were now lower value because they were harder to find. (If I know that somebody had an insightful response to a question discussing a particular article, I can't just look in the comments of that article--I also need to check out the rerun page, and now I would also need to check out the book discussion page.

I expect we're better off having a sidebar link to the book reading group article of the day/week/etc., and encouraging people to post on old articles, than we are making new articles and reposting the content.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-23T00:52:26.702Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

but that they didn't really kick off much discussion

Any idea why not? Also, could be that the book version will increase interest. It could also be that we'll get an influx of new readers with the book's publication and HPMOR's conclusion, so that might help.

If I know that somebody had an insightful response to a question discussing a particular article, I can't just look in the comments of that article--I also need to check out the rerun page, and now I would also need to check out the book discussion page.

Encouraging people to link / quote insightful previous comments might mitigate this issue, at least somewhat. Also, the focus of the reading group would be mostly towards newer readers, so we wouldn't necessarily be aiming for super-high-value comments. That's not to say that people won't have important things to say, just that it's of secondary importance here.

I expect we're better off having a sidebar link to the book reading group article of the day/week/etc.

From what I've seen about the glacial pace of edits to site mechanics, this is almost certainly not going to happen. Unless you know of an easy way to do it?

and encouraging people to post on old articles

Having a sidebar will make for extremely low visibility, and I'm not sure exactly how to encourage people other than that.

comment by Vaniver · 2015-02-23T01:14:16.300Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Any idea why not?

My first guess would be that a big part of the target audience is lurkers, who shouldn't be expected to post all that much.

From what I've seen about the glacial pace of edits to site mechanics, this is almost certainly not going to happen. Unless you know of an easy way to do it?

Changing the sidebar is the main thing that I have seen happen; I do think it would be much more likely to happen if a volunteer writes the required code.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-24T00:59:46.753Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Changing the sidebar is the main thing that I have seen happen; I do think it would be much more likely to happen if a volunteer writes the required code.

Something in the sidebar would be great in any case. Any volunteers?

comment by purplerabbits · 2015-03-03T10:30:08.289Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Any idea why not?

When I was reading the sequences in reruns I felt like a first student in a class in a glass box with ALL the graduates looking on and free to shoot down my ideas :-) Plus I am not a naturally prolific commenter...

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-03-03T16:44:57.025Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Should help if we specifically ask people to be nice to newbies, as I suggested.

comment by torekp · 2015-02-28T14:06:36.279Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I expect we're better off having a sidebar link to the book reading group article of the day/week/etc., and encouraging people to post on old articles

I like this idea, and if others do too I suggest voting for the similar option in ciphergoth's poll

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T15:26:28.006Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

[Adding this as a comment because I don't know how to do a poll in an article.]

[pollid:826]

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-22T12:19:27.058Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a good idea and I anticipate that it would significantly help me, for one, with reading the Sequences. I do however see a potential problem with implementation:

I would recommend one new post per day, going in order of the book. I recommend re-posting the entire article to LW, including any edits or additions that are new in the book.

That would be a lot of posts. If we're talking about making a new post in Discussion everyday, that would likely drown-out most other threads. It would be even worse in Main. (ETA: I think I should have written "dilute" instead of "drown-out." Going by a rough estimate of the current rate of Discussion posts, the proposed series would probably make up only a quarter of Discussion, though that's still a significant change.)

I could, of course, be misunderstanding something, in which case I apologize.

[edited iteratively]

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-22T16:36:22.443Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see a dilution of that magnitude as a problem when the material is the core material of the site. It wouldn't be obviously silly to have this as a lasting feature of the site, and start again when we finally finish.

comment by gwillen · 2015-02-22T17:53:06.771Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly, permanent daily Sequence reruns don't sound like a bad idea at all.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T15:39:56.205Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The Sequences are the core of LW, so I don't know if it's really a problem to dilute other postings by a third or so. But as you say, it is a consideration to take into account.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-25T18:16:30.862Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are they? I thought rationality was, and the sequences are just one person's view on one aspect of rationality. Don't elevate them to gospel.

comment by hydkyll · 2015-02-22T14:39:21.084Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That would be a lot of posts. If we're talking about making a new post in Discussion everyday, that would likely drown-out most other threads. It would be even worse in Main.

One could start a new subreddit for this reading group. Something like reddit.com/r/LWreadinggroup. But that would defeat the purpose of reviving lesswrong.com.

comment by Gondolinian · 2015-02-22T14:48:57.553Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I phrased "drown-out most other threads" too strongly.

Just from eyeballing the Newest Submissions page in Discussion, I estimate there are an average of ~3 new threads per day, so a new post everyday probably wouldn't "drown-out" the other threads, but still, a 33% dilution is a 33% dilution. It's quite possible that it's a trade-off worth making, but it's still a trade-off that I think we should be aware of.

comment by NemkeKira · 2015-02-22T19:57:58.499Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Honestly, as someone new, I think it would be a good trade off. I heard about LW after HPMOR, and I know most people who recommended me HPMOR got intimidated by the amount of backlog they needed to do.

That is not a problem for me, but as I said in a different comment, I enjoy discussion about the things I am currently reading.

comment by NemkeKira · 2015-02-22T19:51:42.926Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I really like this idea. Mostly because I enjoy discussing things I read with others. Though I am having mixed feelings about the pacing.

It would take about 16 years to cover all articles on a weekly basis. Even with a daily pace, it will take about 3 years.

I would most certainly miss out on a couple of posts, but that does not mean I could not participate the day after.

comment by g_pepper · 2015-02-22T16:33:35.790Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

IMO one/week is more realistic than one/day. One of the stated reasons for doing this is:

It would give some of us the motivation to actually go through the Sequences finally

It seems like the above goal would be better realized with a slower pace; it would be pretty easy to miss a posting or two if they are posted one/day. Also, what is the rationale for this:

I recommend re-posting the entire article to LW, including any edits or additions that are new in the book

It seems unnecessary to post the entire article; why not just have a link to the original article? Are there a lot of edits in the book version? If so, and if copyright is not an issue, why not just edit the original post to match what is in the book (assuming this could be done easily). If copyright issues preclude this, then presumably the same copyright issues would preclude posting the book content as new postings. It seems like it will be confusing to have two potentially different versions of each post available on LW.

So I recommend the following:

  1. One post a week

  2. Each post would contain a link to the original post

  3. If possible, the facilitator would provide a summary of the original post and a list of questions/points as a catalyst for discussion, like in the Superintelligence reading group (albeit this would require a fair bit of effort on the part of the facilitator)

  4. Consider updating the original post to match the print version (if there are no copyright issues or other issues)

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-22T16:39:49.801Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At one a week I think it will take decades to complete.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T18:18:52.553Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seconded, this was my reason for suggesting one a day. I believe there are over 800 articles, so even at one a day that'll take a few years! [Edit: Correction, it seems there will be about 300 articles - see link below.]

Once a day was pretty much the original pace as well.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2015-02-22T21:12:41.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was originally for a pace of two per week, just knowing my own work schedule. But if there are truly going to be 800 articles represented in the book, then one a day is the only workable solution. Do we know that the book will be broken out into something like 800 articles?

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T21:23:25.548Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was wrong about the number - the number is approximately 300 articles. I'm basing this on the kickstarter page for the audio version, on the sidebar under where it says "Pledge $50 or more".

Still, 300 articles would take almost a year at 1 per day and almost 6 years at once per week.

One additional thing to note is that most of the articles aren't that long. If you can more or less keep up with Slate Star Codex then I'd guess you should have no problem with once a day Sequences. If you missed a day or two, or even a week or two, it wouldn't take you all that long to catch up.

Maybe we should look at a compromise: Would every other day (so about two years total) maybe work better?

Looks like it's time for yet another poll. My, this thread is getting rather full of those.

What pace would you prefer?

[pollid:828]

comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2015-02-23T04:15:08.852Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you split up some of the longer articles, you might be able to get it to exactly 365 days of blog posts. :)

The eBook will be organized into 26 sequences, all of similar length; so if you want to start new discussion threads, perhaps you should do one thread per sequence rather than one per blog post.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-23T11:31:28.914Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We should totally try this before doing sequence reruns - do a discussion group on, say, a sequence a week.

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-23T17:41:47.943Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

26 sequences one every other week is precisely 52 weeks = the number of weeks in a year. Not bad.

Assuming there are about 300 articles total, that comes out to about 11 or 12 articles per sequence on average, which at one every other week is a little less than once per day.

I think I'd still prefer an article per day (or every other day, as per earlier poll), but I'll let others weigh in on this. Should I do yet another poll?

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-24T12:22:19.287Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd sooner go for one a week; I think that's closer to the likely reading pace and it means we quickly find out whether it works. We could easily follow it with an article-a-day presentation if that's what we think is best after learning from the sequence-a-week presentation.

comment by TsviBT · 2015-02-25T01:16:36.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

FYI, each sequence is (very roughly) 20,000 words.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-25T08:49:58.434Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming it is slower to read than the standard 200 wpm, that's still only a couple of hours each; seems doable!

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-03-01T17:01:09.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Poll:

[pollid:837]

comment by iarwain1 · 2015-02-22T18:27:18.943Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reasons for re-posting the whole thing:

  • It would facilitate new discussion. Assuming we want people to comment on the new rather than the old thread, it would be annoying to keep having to refer back to an old post when commenting on the new post.
  • Much simpler to just copy/paste the old post & add in some edits than to provide a summary.
  • Only Eliezer can update the original post, as far as I know. So if we want to put in the edits we'll need a new copy.

But a link to the original post is obviously a good idea.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2015-02-22T19:38:29.848Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

[pollid:827]