I was reading the comments to The Rationalist Community's Location Problem and especially this comment by Damien Tatum, and thinking about some classic questions of LessWrong/EA/fully-general physical community.
I think a guiding idea for years has been that if we get as many good people and organizations to have close proximity in the bay area, good things will happen. But I don't know whether that's been positive or negative overall.
For years I've heard about brain-drain problems in other would-be hubs. The best people move to the bay area, and the local hub either gets much worse or disappears. (I'm talking especially about meetup groups, but in the hypothetical where this sort of think didn't happen so much, we might also see more serious organizations in those other hubs.)
In a significant sense, this makes for a higher bar to getting involved. If what you have to do in order to get good in-person discussions with rationalists/EAs is move to the bay area rather than get to the closest decent meetup in your city/state/country, well, that puts a big damper on things.
If there have been discussions/modeling about this trade-off before, I'd especially appreciate links.
Edit: The Berkeley Community & The Rest Of Us discusses the brain-drain dynamic I'm discussing.
I think there's likely a pretty big selection effect on who posts in these discussions about community, because the only reason I'm even here to comment at all is that the in-person rationalist community helped me build the confidence to do so. Before moving in with the LW team, I was so shy and low-self-esteem that I didn't think myself worthy to even talk to the people whose names I'd seen online. I spent the last two years of college wishing desperately for the return of the rationalists I knew who had all up and moved to the Bay, but never once reaching out to them, because I didn't feel like I was smart or cool enough to be worth their time. The first time I posted on LW I was so nervous that I cried for an hour before pressing submit, and I only got to that point in the first place because someone was sitting next to me giving me encouragement and basically holding my hand through all of it.
I'm also not good at making friends online and don't enjoy spending much of my time interacting online, so for the people who have said that they get plenty of value out of just being part of the rationalist community online, well, that wouldn't work for me either.
The problem with yo... (read more)