It takes a lot of logistical support to run one of our four-day workshops, and, at our May event, we were lucky enough to have a five-person volunteer team consisting entirely of alumni from workshops we've run in the past. It's great to see people become part of our community and look for ways to share their experiences and what they've learned.
One of our alumni volunteers attended CFAR's first workshop (then called 'minicamps') in May 2012. Over at Less Wrong, she's shared her impressions of how CFAR has changed and grown over the course of a year.
Exactly a year ago, I attended one of the first workshops, back when they were still inexplicably called “minicamps”. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I especially wasn't sure why I had been accepted. But I bravely bullied the nursing faculty staff until they reluctantly let me switch a day of clinical around, and later stumbled off my plane into the San Francisco airport in a haze of exhaustion. The workshop spat me out three days later, twice as exhausted, with teetering piles of ideas and very little time or energy to apply them. I left with a list of annual goals, which I had never bothered to have before, and a feeling that more was possible–this included the feeling that more would have been possible if the workshop had been longer and less chaotic, if I had slept more the week before, if I hadn't had to rush out on Sunday evening to catch a plane and miss the social.
...The curriculum has shifted around a lot in the past year, and I think with 95% probability that it's now more concretely useful. (Speaking of probabilities, the prediction markets during the workshop seemed to flow better and be more fun and interesting this time, although this may just show that I was more averse to games in general and betting in particular. In that case, yay for partly-cured aversions!)
...I thought the May 2012 workshop was awesome. I thought the May 2013 workshop was about an order of magnitude more awesome. I would say that now is a great time to attend a CFAR workshop...except that the organization is financially stable and likely to still be around in a year and producing even better workshops. So I'm not sure. Then again, rationality skills have compound interest–the value of learning some new skills now, even if they amount more to vocab words and mental labels than superpowers, compounds over the year that you spend seeing all the books you read and all the opportunities you have in that framework. I'm glad I went a year ago instead of this May. I'm even more glad I had the opportunity to see the new classes and meet the new participants a year later.
We have one more four day workshop scheduled for this summer, so please send us an application soon if you're interested in coming out in July. We have yet to finalize our Fall schedule, but we look forward to continuing to refine the practice and theory of rationality and experiment with the best format and setting for putting these ideas into practice.