LessWrong Hamburg Second Meetup Notes: In need of Structure

by Gunnar_Zarncke 1 min read22nd Feb 20144 comments


Review of our second Meetup : LessWrong Hamburg - about Procrastination

When I arrived late there already was a discussion about the benefits and content of LessWrong. I didn't take a clear organizers role and instead let the meetup mostly run itself. This worked OK but also led to the planned topic procrastication falling off the table until very late when it was discovered that there was actually more interest in it than everybody seemed to have assumed.

There were phases where the discussion was dominated by everyday topics and not focussed. This was partly because some participants knew each other well and played topics back and forth. This kept the others out. I could have moderated this but wasn't clearly aware of it until it was explicitly and friendly made a topic.

Despite the unstructured format we got the following positive results:

  • I had brought Emotions Revealed by Ekman (and other books) and left it lying on the table. Page turning led to the faces test and we took the test and discovered which emotions we could read or differentiate best and least. See also Emotion in the LW Wiki.
  • A diabetes glucose test was demonstrated (curiosity overcame fear of being needled) and one actually had an unexpectedly elevated reading.
  • When discussing how to stop smoking we turned up one option that convinced one participant: When relocating next month he will try to find a non-smoker flat-sharing community.
  • We noticed that our communication cultures differed and talked about guess and ask cultures and how we could improve (I saw that this was a topic at the recent Berkeley Meetup).
  • We noticed that that we had difficulty finding structure and made an explicit agenda for the next meetup.

We planned the next meetup and chose a moderator to keep us more focussed.


  • Suitable books laying about can direct discussion to productive topics.
  • Lively discussions about off-topics eat time and can keep participants out - but also provide casual athmosphere.
  • Missing meetup structure can cause dissatisfaction with content uncertainness about direction.

(none of these surprising)

We also played a game (Set), had some fun, took photos and planned a next meetup.