Comments on “Bring meta-rationality into your Orbit”

Thoughts on new format

Nick Hay 2021-01-28

I enjoyed this new format a lot. A couple of thoughts so far.

The reviews gave good places to pause and pick things up again later. Perhaps there’s a way to facilitate that even more by e.g. being able to press a button to re-review questions collected in the most recently read section?

The starburst, and the collecting x of N prompts text, gave a satisfying sense of progress.

The system supports a freedom to fail at remembering or even knowing a satisfactory answer to a prompt, trusting that you’ll get another chance later.


David Pinto 2021-01-29

Check Sqale. Co

I started a PhD and found it useless. Happy to pursue other paths. Funding is an important piece in the puzzle.

Like your writing and transparency. Will check orbit.

RE: Orbit

Orion J Anderson 2021-01-29

I read your maps and meta-maps article and did all the orbit prompts. Overall, I enjoyed engaging with them and I think the technology has great potential.

An experience I had with a lot of the questions was that I would read your prompt and be uncertain what answer you were expecting. I would have a concept or quote from that segment in my mind, though. When I clicked to reveal the answer, I would see that the phrase that I had recalled was indeed the answer you had in mind, I simply hadn’t understood how or why it was the answer. In those cases I wasn’t sure whether I should click “remembered” or “forgot.”

In a couple of cases, I thought about it and concluded that I hadn’t been able to answer the question because I hadn’t fully understood the passage; I was able to recall the quote, but not to see how it applied. In most cases, though, I ended up feeling like the problem was that the prompt was confusing or vague; I had understood what I read, but not understood the question you asked about it.

Understanding the issue but not having exactly the "right" answer

David Chapman 2021-01-31

Thank you very much for this feedback! Glad you enjoyed it overall.

I had similar difficulties sometimes when first using Orbit with another author’s prompts.

I hope that with more experience in writing prompts we’ll be able to minimize this sort of problem.


Kenny 2021-02-01

It was overall a little jarring – I genuinely enjoy reading your writing and answering questions in between was noticeably different.

I’m not ‘sold’ on it, but I’m open to continue testing it!

Like all good games nowadays, I like the latitude it allows you – the person reading the prompts – in deciding whether to record a prompt ‘forgotten’ or ‘remembered’. I definitely played with different ‘personal interpretations’ of what those two possibilities might mean for a given prompt. I think the ambiguity (nebulosity) were rather delicious for your work in particular. I ended-up grading myself as ‘forgetting’ any prompts that I couldn’t both explain in my own words or with my own examples and any for which I couldn’t recall your specific terms or phrases.

I’m definitely curious to play with the longer-term prompts.

It’d also be interesting to feed other prompts, or pre-made sets of them for various topics, into a kind of big ‘prompt stew’ with which I could regularly challenge myself.

Too much!

Kenny 2021-03-21

I was taking the periodic ‘quizzes’ for several weeks and it was very interesting! I could definitely perceive that my memory, of what was being tested in the periodic “reviews” anyways, was improving.

But I’m less sure how helpful this as a general technology. It’s certainly useful if it’s particularly important that one remember particular ‘passwords’. That is useful, sometimes incredibly so – lots of credentials, and concretely useful skills, are ‘gated’ behind an ability to recall specific facts or ideas easily and rapidly.

But I can’t imagine much use beyond that – the time costs of reviewing just one blog post are already way too expensive. I’m not sure how idiosyncratic this is, for me, or others generally. But I don’t think I’d have even an order of magnitude of a larger ‘budget’ for the reviews, even under perfect conditions.

I think this is something that is very useful, for a specific, fairly narrow, and very focused purpose. (And maybe even just one such purpose could be maintained at a time, with a possible exception for (at least roughly) full-time students or scholars.)

Thrilled that you're starting to use Orbit

Alejandro 2021-07-18

I’ve regularly used Anki for the last year inspired by one of Michael’s essays on the topic and despite how difficult it is to identify the effects of spaced repetition for complex topics, I think there are a few notable benefits of the practice. One thing I’ve observed is that the prompts help you interact with the concepts with much more ease, so that you can easily import them in your own reasoning (instead of burdening your memory or failing to come up at all).
Thank you for doing the work of trying to engage further with the reader and I hope that you consider using spaced repetition for more of your essays