Saturday, March 31, 2012

online dating environment

Dear Nicole Ellison,

      I love how you described the online dating arena as this place of opportunity for people to practice impression formation and adapt self-presentation strategies. I feel like the negative stigma that was once attached to online dating has definitely decreased in this generation because it has become “normal” for people to have relationships online. People used to think that others tried to seek for companionship online because they were desperate and unable to find relationships in the real world, but the “ubiquitous access to the Internet, the diminished social stigma associated with online dating, and the affordable cost of Internet matchmaking services” contribute to the increasingly common perception that online dating is a viable, efficient way to meet dating or long-term relationship partners. “The use of online dating or online personals services has evolved from a marginal to a mainstream social practice.” When considering relationships online, I think a person has to consider the Utopian potential that the Internet holds for our relationships, that we can meet new people and form rewarding new relationships; however, one must be concerned that the people we meet online cannot be trusted and may even be dangerous. Like you, Nancy Baym believes that the Internet has brought to all of its users the possibility of forming relationships that transcend space. So without doubt, the issues that shake people the most about forming relationships online center on identity. Baym asks, “When people's bodies aren't visible, will people lie about who they are? Can they be known? Can they be trusted? Can the relationships they form be valid?” And I think the answer to that would be, you really don't know. People online can manipulate language through self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is indispensable in turning strangers into relational partners and to maintaining ongoing relationships. You and Baym both touch upon the notion that strategic management is essential to shaping the impressions others form of us, “to convey an impression to others which it is in his interests to convey.” Especially when interacting with strangers, people tend to engage in self-enhancement because they are starting with a blank slate. 



week 10

Dear Mr. Keen,

I agree with your reading about how social media and blogs along with other user generated media are destroying the world around us. In your reading, it stated. “In this era of exploding media technologies there is no truth except the truth you create for yourself.“ People are starting to believe what occurs on the internet is what real life is. They are meshing the virtual world with real worlds and letting it affect their real lives. Our cultures and beliefs are being tested. For example, there are so many cases where relationships are ruined because of secrets kept on social media and user generated programs. There have been cases where cheating occurs, people rekindle over the internet and live are ruined. In your reference to blogs, its completely true that this is what is ruining our economy. In the cases you spoke about how blogs were being used in relation to public relations, so many companies have spent so much money trying to fix the damage that people caused them on blogs. It’s a never ending man eats man cycle. The worst part is that everyone wants to point their finger on what causes the economy to be so shitty, however they should point to the blogs and open their eyes to see the truth about them. Culture is being corrupted and in your reading you stated, “Our culture no longer bothers to use words like appropriation or borrowing.” The audiences of the social media content are getting more involved and because the authors themselves, there is not just one author and its compromising the content that is being displayed. No single person gets the credit for something anymore. And in relation to that, that is very similar to the problems that journalist are facing today because of social media. On twitter, peole want to be the first to “break the story” so they post something without even finding out the truth first. And that goes back to the first thing I mentioned in this letter. Like you said the truth is what they are creating themselves and people want to rush to post news but it might not be the REAL truth. It’s a problem that we have to face but I 100% agree with you and I think this is just the world that we are forced to live in now.

Deanna Dimino

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Week 11- Foggy Mirror

(Week 11 Post)

Dear Nancy Baym,
I thought your coverage in chapter 5 of the process of meeting new people and the presentation of self was interesting (and I feel the same about chapter 6 and your discussion about relationship development and maintenance). I agree when you said that digital forms of interaction may be said to lower inhibitions, make it easier to find shared interests, and make it easier to make friends across social divisions, however, they also force us to consider whether those we interact with are who they say they are.  I find this true because I know people that use Facebook to do this, they talk to people through Facebook Chat making themselves come off as the person they want to be, and they have open conversations about a variety of topics as if they are best friends, yet if they see each other in person they barely know how to say hi.  It’s just something about not being face to face that gives people a sense of security, but worry at the same time about who’s on the other side.  This goes along with Ellison et al’s article about online impressions and self-presentation.  Even though she talks about online dating environments, it still covers the same topics: how people portray themselves online.  In their article they write about these participants and how they don’t always realize but they make themselves appear better than they are, as if it’s a fantasy or “ideal” image of themselves in order to get people to connect with them.  They even bring up the “Foggy Mirror” phenomenon that explains that people may misrepresent themselves because of technical constraints or tendency to present an idealized self because of the limits of self-knowledge.  One example was that people explain themselves by how they see themselves however it might be a different perception from how others see themselves, which affects results.  This ties into your chapter because this will affect like you said, that question in the back of our minds... “Are people we interact with really who they say they are.” Another thing the authors mentioned I thought was interesting was that, “the face-to-face interaction they anticipated meant that individuals had to balance their desire for self-promotion with their need for accurate self-presentation”, I never thought of that as something someone would have to worry about, but if people are using dating websites this is certainly something that is very important. In your chapter 6 covering relationship development and maintenance, I agree with how you explain that as more forms of communication are added due to strengthening relationships, it usually exposes us to more social cues, for example going from emails to phone calls. I think it’s so true, because as discussions cover more varied topics and include more personal information, the relationship becomes closer. I liked how you pointed out that there is no correlation between the form of communication we use (whether it’s face-to-face or virtual) and the closeness of our relationship. I agree with that because I could talk to someone at work everyday and still not be close to them, however, my dad lives in Florida and I Skype/call/email him regularly and feel a lot closer than I do with any of my coworkers.  It all depends on the relationships being built I guess, and I guess I’m not trying to build those particular relationships with certain coworkers as I am with family members. 
-Gabby Theroux

Groupthink Discrepancies

Dear Cain, Keen, and Shirky,

You all wrote very interesting articles on groupthink. I would have to disagree with some points made though. Cain, your arguments for getting more creative thoughts from solitude and having a groupthink mentality in a collaborative workplace are invalid. The very point of a collaborative effort in the workplace is often to bounce ideas back and forth while someone plays devil's advocate, all the while helping to come up with the best idea possible as a team.

Keen, your worries about about democratized media leading to everyone on the internet producing and contributing and no one actually listening are unfounded. If there was no one there to listen then there wouldn't be motivation for anyone to create or post any kind of media. Yes, there has been a huge influx of people self promoting their work on sites like Youtube, but in the end it's a self sufficient system. Like the economics' invisible hand theory, only the truly talented - and somewhat lucky - will survive. Mediocrity will not catch on.

Shirky, I would have to disagree with Cunningham's assumption that "groups of people who want to collaborate also tend to trust one another". Staying with the Wikipedia example, I don't think people really trust one another just because they are contributing to or reading the same articles. People are very quick to use other outlets on the internet to fact check what they are reading if they believe someone has posted an error. I believe that if you checked the edit history on some of the most popular article, it would show you that people have disagreed on many topics including simple facts like dates, locations, etc.

Kindest Regards,
Joe Guagenti

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Rise of the New Groupthink

Dear Susan Cain,

After reading your article, The Rise of the New Groupthink, I feel I can honestly relate to most of what you were saying.   The thing is it did not take me to get to page three and four to really start agreeing with you.  This is because in the beginning I felt you were attacking groupthink and the advantages it as amongst the ones who work mainly in groups.  I am a college student and in almost all of my five classes I work mainly with others.  Which I like and find it beneficial because I am able to expand on my own ideas but hearing other thoughts and or opinions in which I would probably have never thought of on my own.  Then the middle of your article I started realizing what you were trying to really say is that even though working in groups or around others can be great it can also take away from “serious work.” On page two you say, Culturally, we’re often so dazzled by charisma that we overlook the quiet part of the creative process.”  Here is a thought.  Maybe I like working in groups so much because the work is usually distributed, and because I like working with others, which has a lot to do with my personality.  For me I like being around people, and really dislike being alone, but does that take away from my own personal creativity, privacy, freedom from interruption.  Do we waste more time in with group environments? Do you think that we do?    Your article really got me thinking.  When you talk about the New Groupthink and how it has overtaken our workplaces, our schools, and our religious institutions, I had to agree with the New Groupthink of today compared to when I was in elementary school.  You say that today, elementary school classrooms are commonly arranged in pods of desks, the better to foster group learning.   I visited my cousin in school and saw the same thing.  It reminded me of when I was in elementary school.  Our desks were set up the same exact way. I even remember getting upset when the few times they would change the groups around how upset I would get.  Were talking a long time since I was in elementary school to.  You also talked about the fourth grade classroom you visited in New York City.  Here you observed students engaging in-group work where they actually were forbidden to ask a question unless every member of the group had the same very question.  This I do not agree with and think that the New Groupthink cannot be good if children at such a young learning experience are interacting this way.  I think we should be able to share and express our own thoughts especially when working within groups, or group settings.   I also could relate to being that person that is corralled into endless meetings or conference calls." For me this are usually conducted at the on-campus library.  Where I have to commute and my group members do not.  During these times I would like to work at home.   Also when we decide to meet up at a members house just like you mentioned the noise, and gaze of other workers, affords no respite.  In Conclusion, I think everyone has his or her own preference, but so far even with this New Groupthink I do not think anything has to be changed, I think that companies and organizations need to make that decision to determine what will be the most effective way.   Everyone has the freedom to be creative and choose to be solitude with his or her own fashion. Great article! Really had me thinking.

Group Dynamics

Dear Susan Cain,

Reading your article made me really think about how helpful or harmful it is to be in a group. When you are working within a group you have to rely on other people who sometimes you don't know very well. Because you don't know them very well you are not aware of their character traits. There are times when you are on a group with individuals who are completely capable of handling all assignments and tasks that are thrown at them; but there are also other times where sometimes other members of the group has to pick up the slack of maybe one or two stragglers. I believe that working alone has its benefits, this is because you have full creative control over everything that is going on with the assignment or project. You mention that especially in schooling there is a group aspect. From personal experience and the DCIM minor, I am aware that there is a huge group work aspect. Just this semester alone I have over three group projects.

I think that by reading your article as well as Clay Shirky and Andrew Keen, I have come to the conclusion that group work is more of a positive than a negative. When working in a group you have the ability to collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other. This also goes back to the saying "two heads are better than one," when you have multiple creative minds working on one project chances are the results will be better than that of one single thought. Working in groups can sometimes cause disagreements on creative ideas, but if groups can work together to discuss and work through problems then they will ultimately be more successful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One Man Band: Does it work?

Dear Susan,
After reading your article I began to think about both the pros and the cons of groups and groupwork. I know in your article you state ""individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases", which I partly agree with because I don't like working in groups myself, however I do think that sometimes group work is necessary and important for self-development, production and life in general. Although working all has many advantages, the main one being not having to deal with various opposing views, however dealing with multiple points of views and insight is the beauty of life. Working in a group allows more than one person to contribute to the thought process, which may help people view something from a different angle and perspective. I think you should read Andrew Keen's article to get a better understand of how group work works! In terms of dealing with the media group work works because there are multiple jobs and tasks to do for multiple people.

Lately with the rise of "freedom" and user friendly production tools everyone is able to be there own editor, producer, director, etc. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but with amateurs that lack the proper training and understand of tools and production methods, them being a one man band isn't helping their audience, nor is it helping themselves. Everyone needs some sort of guidance and feedback; especially amateurs on the come up. I do agree with Keen that in this sense being a part of a group, and something grander than self, is important and necessary. Without amateurs being a part of a group they are short changing themselves as individuals and their work which they produce. If my ramblings don't make sense think of it this way, you can't have a machine with only one part and expect it to work; even a pencil is comprised of different parts which makes it work and properly do it's job function.

Ayesha Go.

Collaborative Group Environment

Dear Susan Cain,

It was interesting to read your article “The Rise of the New Groupthink”.  I do agree with you that there are pros and cons to working in a collaborative environment.  As you mention in your article, you talk about how the education system is beginning to use a collaborative group environment as a major part of students’ schooling.  It seems like especially in college being able to work in a collaborative environment has been stressed in the DCIM minor I am taking now.  While I do agree that working in this environment can be beneficial because of more shared ideas, there are cons to it as well. Not everyone works well in a group and some actually work better on their own because they are able to manage their time better.  Also, there are many distractions in group work and if people disagree on certain subjects it results in a huge distraction from accomplishing the goal.  

Contradictory to your opinion, both authors Clay Shirky and Andrew Keen share a different approach on a collaborative group environment.  Clay Shirky writes in “Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production” about working in a group environment but on a more wide-scale basis.  He uses Wikipedia as an example of a large group of people working together because anybody can change what information goes on this online encyclopedia. While this may seem productive, I would actually disagree with this as beneficial because there are many different viewpoints on certain subjects which can result in a constant change of information that may not even be completely accurate.  Andrew Keen brings up an interest point in “The Great Seduction” when he talks about the power of society in online blogs and the media.  A lot of our opinions are beginning to be swayed by the majority opinion of society.  With social media having such a major presence in our daily lives, we at times are only seeing one side of a argument.  With such a large collaboration of one idea that may not seemingly be true, we tend to feel that we have to go along with the crowd.  In conclusion, I would have to agree with you. I personally work better individually then I do in groups so it is easy for me to share the same opinion as you.  However, when also reading the articles of Clay Shirky and Andrew Keen, it solidified my opinion of working in a group environment.   

Steve Schreck

Group think & Virtual Contexts

Dear Susan Cain,

I found your article “The Rise of the New Groupthink” really insightful and interesting because currently in all of my college courses, we are doing group work and group projects. Personally, I do not like group projects because there are always people doing more work than others, and everyone receives the same amount of credit. As you mentioned, group work encourages collaboration and may dim the light on some good ideas because others may be louder in their delivery. I find it ironic that “research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption” (Cain 2012), yet most institutions practice group work more often than individual work.

However, you also mentioned that an exception to group think is working in groups virtually. Like you mentioned, “You can be alone while also working together” (Cain 2012). Clay Shirky notes that it is very difficult to work in a group; however, if done properly the results can be better than individual work (Shirky 2008). Essentially, two heads are better than one as long as both contribute accurately. Shirky uses the example of how successful Wikkipedia has been due to distributive collaboration.

In contrast, Andrew Keen discusses how he came to learn about Web 2.0 and how it would bring together and allow companies, institutions, the public, and government to actively contribute to each other. Keen talks about how the new collective internet would actually bring less culture to the world. Keen says, “Audience and author had become one” (Keen) and this creates a very large scale form of group think and collaboration of ideas. Keen goes on to discuss how the internet destroys creativity and promotes copying each other’s ideas and trying to pass them off as our own. Keen sees virtual group think more potentially more dangerous than in person group think.

In my opinion, virtual group work is the inevitable future of college courses and the work place. Virtual meetings, as Cain mentioned, have the best of both worlds because people can think on their own but also use other members’ input. Virtual contexts like Facebook and Second Life are viable spaces for the best type of creative work can be done.


Chelsey Berger


Dear Cain,
I completely, completely, completely agree with your argument that groupthink is it an all time high and decreasing creativity. "Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in." There is no longer individual work, everything has become group work. All of my classes now consist of groupwork instead of individual work. Groupwork and creating relationships is great, but too much of it puts a damper on individual's creativity. I personally come up with better ideas when I am alone than when I am in a group. When I am in a group I rely on the team to come up with the ideas and then I just agree with them.  Just as you quoted Picasso, “without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” In groups, team members are subject to groupthink and creating relationships that slow down the work process. I agree with Mr. Wozniak's advice to "work alone... Not on a committee. Not on a team."

This can tie into Keen's article, "The Cult of the Amateur", and Shirky's article, "Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production". Keen talks about how in today's society everyone wants to be an artist and there are now a myriad of amateur productions, but really only talented people can be artist. I disagree with his harshness towards individuals wanting to be artists, but I agree that there is too much mediocrity. Just how everyone now wants to be an artist and how now everyone wants to work collaboratively, the truly creative and talented ideas are decreasing because too many people are involved and everything is becoming amateur work. Shirky's article discusses the creation of Wikipedia and how a group of scholars collaborated to create this online encyclopedia that can be viewed and edited by the public. As great as this idea is, it can also create false information. The collaboration of Wikipedia and allowing anyone to edit it can cause individuals to put false information in the articles. I can easily click edit and make up any random shit I want on an article and someone could easily believe it because they believe it is a reliable source. I believe teamwork is great, but teamwork is great for sports and when support and assistance is needed. The truly talented and creative ideas come from the individuals who chose to work alone.

Yours Truly,
Taylor Palehonki


Dear Susan Cain,

            Your article on groupthink was really interesting and made me realize there were a lot of examples in my life were I have participated in it or was set up to do so. As you suggested by the school desks, from grades 1 through 8 in my grammar school our desks were either set up into fours, or touching in some way to put us into groups. I have to agree with you that by having this dynamic planned out for us might have debilitated  the creative juices we might have already had flowing around in our heads. No giving us a chance to choose our groups, but choosing them for us and forcing us to work towards a goal that we might not all agree on, but we had to get to, might not have been in our best interest.
            I really do agree with your notion that people who are talented and motivated should be encouraged to work alone, because I prefer working alone over anything else. I feel that I am almost demotivated when I am forced to work in a group, because there are so many people who don’t think for themselves and they just agree with everyone else or they try to latch onto your ideas and use them as your own. Slackers and free loaders seem to make up a lot of the teams I have had the misfortune to be in and I feel that has really hindered some of the work I have had to do. The only group that I have effectively worked in and avoided the pitfalls of groupthink is a class where we immediately discussed what groupthink was and how to avoid it. I think that was a big contributing factor towards succeeding, as well as being lucky enough to have group members that are hard workers.
            Clay Shirky’s article “Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production from Here Comes Everybody” suggests that he effects of collaborative work are deep, which I can agree with. While working in groups can be detrimental because of groupthink as you suggest, I think that working together can be effective when the group all can agree with each other or are comfortable enough to discuss an issues they might have. If they are all on the same page and plan to meet the same goals, I think group work can be amazing. Shirky brings up Wikipedia in his article, which is known as a major site where people can all come together to collaborate on a topic. I think the idea is a good one and with proper monitoring, it is done well. However, I know a few years ago there was the issue where false, slandering information was posted on the site suggesting that an innocent man was involved in the assassination of JFK, and that information was there for months on end.
            I agree with Andrew Keen in “The Great Seduction from the Cult of the Amateur,” that it I do not believe all the information the media gives me, at least not initially. I think that he would g along with your beliefs on groupthink because he suggests that because so many people can create new information, it’s turning so many things into ‘truths.’ I think that this idea that everyone has their own opinion and they are very persistent with it, that it goes hand in hand with groupthink because while some people will be vocal if they have different opinions, not everyone will. They might just go along with the other person because that person is so determined in their opinion.
Ana Luisa Suarez

Do I look smarter being in a group?

Dear Susan Cain,

Upon reading your article "The Rise of the New Groupthink," you really made a good point on the way people think creatively. It is very true that people work better as a team, but the real creativity comes out and shine is when people are in an isolated area, where they are comfortable enough to sit there and think of new ideas and thoughts. The way you mentioned that "individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases" (Cain 2012). The perfect example, that I think, from your article is when you stated: "Mr. Wozniak got the work done - the sheer hard work of creating something from nothing - he did it alone. Late at night, all by himself" (Cain 2012). But the idea of cooperating in a group can start something great also contradicts this belief. Like author Clay Shirky stated in his article "Here comes everybody." When a group of people decided to become a community and join in on certain projects, they have the ability to achieve and produce better things than those individual minds makes themselves. He stated: "Because enough people thought of using Wikipedia as a coordinating resource, it became one, and because it became one, more people learned to think of it as a coordinating resource" (Shirky 117). In this contact, Wikipedia is the idea that people thought of. The website cannot really become great until people from various places with different knowledge input their own experiences into it. This example really showed how team work can sometimes be better than individual work. But then again, it is amazing how well the users of Wikipedia cooperated with one another. The way people actually post genuine information toward one content. According to Andrew Keen's article "The cult of the amateur," what he stated can be seen as the unproductive aspect of certain creative minds. He said: "In a flattened, editor-free world where independent videographers, podcasters, and bloggers can post their amateurish creations at will, and no one is being paid to check their credentials or evaluate their material, media is vulnerable to untrustworthy content of every stripe" (Keen 19). From this we can see that not all people are there to share accurate and resourceful information,  instead they would upload misinformation and disinformation where they have no basis, misdirecting people all over the world. So is it better to work by yourself or as a community? It really all depends on whether people actually take responsibility for the information they try to contribute.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week 10

Dear Susan,

Your article titled “The Rise of the New Groupthink” is one of the most fascinating pieces that I’ve read in a while. It’s so eye opening that it is inspiring and motivating to me to continue to be comfortable with my introverted tendencies and embrace the ideas that come to me when I’m working alone. It’s amazing to me how much my education has relied on teaching me how to productively participate in groups as if that was the end all be all nugget of knowledge. If I leave college knowing anything it should be that I know how to communicate with others. While this is certainly a useful skill there seems to be a point of saturation where being with other people is just unproductive and even hurtful. Andrew Keen explains a situation similar to this in chapter 1 of his book “The Great Seduction from the Cult of the Amateur.” Being around people who continued to want something that seemed so totally wrong he was forced to be alone just to save his sanity and ideas.

I just love how your article flies in the face of everything that I’ve been taught throughout my education career. I too sat in desk pods in elementary and even middle school and I do not feel any wiser for it. At my current internship there is an open floor plan and I’m self-conscious throughout the whole day not to mention distracted by other’s phone conversations. And when I need to talk on the phone it’s almost terrifying for me. I can see how productivity can increase when people are able to escape. But I can also see your point how groups online are extremely successful and that that’s the beauty of the Internet. As explained by Clay Shirky this power given to people behind a screen is what made Wikipedia so successful. Strangers came together and created an entire network of knowledge and something that is so impressive and vital to us that we it has become the first place to look for an answer.

Thank you for your insight. It just might be life changing.

Andrew Kerth

Week 9

Dear, Steinkuehler and Williams,

Your research into how MMO’s can be third places is quite fascinating and the two-method approach is certainly novel as you state. I’m not really a gamer at all but I was into video games when I was younger. Back then, though, there were not PS3’s or Xbox 360’s so most of the time I would play by myself or with a couple friends. I didn’t see video games or MMO’s as a place to meet people because no one else was doing that. Even know, with it so prevalent in our culture, it’s hard for me to understand how people can be so into these virtual worlds but still be mildly socially competent. Your article, however, has proven to me that there is more than just meets the eye to the third place.

I think that there was no other way to come to your conclusion than by using two different “lines of inquiry.” You were able to prove through the media effects approach that MMO’s are indeed very similar to the real third places that we in habit everyday. And through the sociocultural perspective that players who are participating in the virtual world are gaining nearly as much social capital, or creating it, as they would be if they were in the traditional third places. This is fascinating because the two approaches not only support each other but they are able to support the bigger question of what benefit do these MMO’s really have and are they socially healthy? The most interesting point that you stated in your conclusion was how this benefit decreases as more time is invested into the world. This makes sense because focus if put more into succeeding in the game than creating bonds with fellow gamers. However, I do believe that even when gamers are focused on a goal of the game, they can build ties with others but they might not have the remaining energy or desire to ensure that those bonds last.

Andrew Kerth

Groupthink is a hell of a drug!! lol

Dear Susan Cain,

Your article on group think brought up a few topics that I thought were very interesting and are things that are changing our world in my opinion. I think that group think can be a good and bad thing.

First, lets take the good side. In history some of the greatest findings, movements, discovers, etc have been made off the shear fact that people are so closely knitted that they believe in one thing. You can look at the civil rights movement, any successful team you can think of, or even teams of doctors that discover life changing findings in medicine. Group think can be a good thing and at the very basic levels groups and teams.

On the other hand, the bad side. There are so many bad examples of group think that have been bad the list goes on and on. Some are the Holocaust, slavery, gangs, and many more. These are examples of when group think gets taken to the extreme. Usually in these cases, there is a figure head that has his/her beliefs and instills them on to groups members and then the members align themselves within the belief system. This version of group think is always bad for the most part. This only happens within groups where creativity is limited and no one has a true voice, it is only about what the group thinks and nothing more or less.

I think group think for the most part is bad cause it hiders innovation, stops the generations of ideas, and hurts productivity. Yes, sometimes group think is good but only for so long until things go bad and it always does with group think. Don't believe me, try it yourself.

Amir Zaffa

Dear Susan Cain,

Your New York Times article about groupthink really did get me thinking. Through years of schooling, beginning as early as elementary school, I’ve been encouraged to collaborate with others on certain tasks. (Like you mentioned, the desks in my classrooms were even set up in pods too). After reading your article, I’m realizing that many of those instances may have caused me, as well as other members in my group working on the tasks, to lose our own creative thoughts along the way, and just succumb to someone else’s.

I agree with the quote you included in your article by Adrien Furnham, “If you have talented and motivational people, they should be encouraged to work alone when creativity or efficacy is the highest priority.” You make a very good point about people sometimes just sitting back and latching onto someone else’s ideas as their own, while losing site of their own opinions. Working in hybrid situations like we do for some of our DCIM classes may be beneficial to generating ideas. While working collectively in an online atmosphere, there still is that individual component, because people are not physically in the same location.

Aside from these reasons, there definitely could be some positive things coming out of groupthink. One person may have a good idea and hearing feedback from someone else can make their idea even stronger. In his article, “Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production from Here Comes Everybody,” Clay Shirky agrees, calling the effects of group collaboration “profound.” Shirky talks about Ward Cunningham, developer of the first Wiki. With the “Edit this” feature on Wiki sites, the article explains, the “reader [can] add, alter or delete the contents of the page.” There is a medium or regulator standing in the way with a book or magazine, the article explains, but, with Wiki sites, anyone can freely share information, and in the case that something may be wrong, all of the previous edits are saved and can be referred back to. Wikipedia is great for certain things, but the major downside is that people can be sharing inaccurate information, which is published before its deemed reliable.

In his article “The Great Seduction from the Cult of the Amateur,” Andrew Keen seems skeptical and hesitant to believe all of the information that the media feeds him. He would agree with you about groupthink to an extent. He writes that “Today’s media is shattering the world into a billion personalized truths, each seemingly equally valid and worthwhile.” In today’s society, anybody can produce content, and encourage others to listen and buy into their ideas and the message they’re trying to convey. Since people have their own perspectives on different issues, it can be difficult to stand one’s own ground and believe their own opinion when others and the media are trying to force another idea upon them.

Thank you for reading,

Blaine Schoen

groupthink or group work?

Dear Susan Cain,

Your article, The Rise of the New Groupthink was interesting to read. I believe many of the issues you mentioned did not acknowledge the other side. You mention the issue of workers not having private spaces. I believe that workers may enjoy community places to do work, like a conference room, but also value having their own space. I believe this is why many workers complain about the open-plan office, not the fact that they must collaborate with other works. Also when people do have work they need to complete individually, it can be distracting to see and hear all the rest of the company at work.

It is interesting that you mention several studies in the beginning of your article but you do not cite the name, authors or go in depth with the details of the study. You do go into detail for the Coding War Games study, which leads me to presume that this study was more credible then the others. Further you say that people from the top organization that had more privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption than people from less accomplished organization. I believe this does not prove you case about groupthink. Rather it shows that people like to work independently when needed, not that they do not like to collaborate at all or that collaboration has a negative impact on work.

For brainstorming to work effectively, group members must establish a criteria for all meetings/brainstorming sessions. For example, appointing one or two devils advocate makes it more acceptable to oppose the majority of the groups opinion. I do not believe group work is not achievable, but it is rather new to many humans. With the youngest generations beginning to graduate from college and enter the work force, I believe group work will prove to be more successful than ever. With any change is a time for adjustment, and that is exactly what the American workforce is dealing with at this very moment.

It is interesting to see that when brainstorming electronically, large groups outperform individuals. This is apparent in Clay Shirky’s chapter Personal Motivation Meets Collaborative Production in her book Here Comes Everybody. Shirky talks about the popular collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia. This is the perfect example of people working electronically in very large numbers. Rather than working in specific groups, people collaborate on the content that is posted.

However Andrew Keens chapter The Great Seduction in his book The Cult of the Armature has a different point of view on the impact of Wikipedia and the Internet in general. His example of the cause of death of Ken Lay makes you think about the content that is on the site. If there are some people dedicated to publishing a particular fact or lie, could the truth be lost on this site that so many people use for information?

One group, one thought, freaking scary.

Dear Susan Cain,

In The Rise of the New Groupthink you bring up that "Solitude is out of fashion." but when was it ever in?

I recognize that the change from a cubicle organization to an open-plan office does not allow individuals to get work done because they are constantly bothered by their surroundings but I do not agree that in a cubicle organization people were actually alone or even felt alone.

 In a cubicle organization people share the floor space with the rest of their peers. In addition, although there is a plastic wall separating people, I don’t think people felt "alone" because they know that they can walk down to any other cubicle and ask for help. I think people in a cubicle society work better because they know that the cubicles offer some privacy and concentration, have people they can get a hold of at any given moment to help them resolve any dilemma. This in turn entails them to able to concentrate on their task because they know that they have that support.

With that being said, I agree that people do some of their best work alone, but I do feel that you undermine the importance a good group.

"Solitude is a catalyst to innovation." This might be true but had it not been for Steve Jobs, Wozniak would have given away his product free and apple we Apple wouldn’t exist. I think that groups are important part of the creation of a whole process, one person can't do everything.

In the article, "Here Comes Everybody" Clay Shirky says that Wikipedia is powerful today because it makes use of different people's knowledge and skills. It recognizes that not one person has all the knowledge and skills necessary to write one really good article, takes group effort. People that are knowledgeable of the topic, can edit, and improve the text.

Now as much as I think that a good group is important for the successful completion of a project, a bad group with no understanding of the need to balance individual and communal work is detrimental. As you say, Group work fails when people "tend to sit back and let others do their work; mimic other's ideas, and succumb to peer pressure."

In the article "The Cult of the Amateur" by Andrew Keen, he brings up another point for why open source group work is does more harm than good. Keen looks down on collaboration of people that do not have the skills or knowledge and therefore according to him should not be giving their two cents. "The free, user generated content spawned and extolled by the Web 2.0 revolution is disseminating the ranks of our cultural gatekeepers." Not only do are professional positions in threat of extinction, like journalist, but now the information being put out there is suffering as well. "The more self-created content that gets dumped onto the internet; the harder it becomes to distinguish the good from the bad."

There should be a balance of directed group work followed by individual work.