Sunday, March 25, 2012

Collaboration: Good or Bad?

Dear Susan Cain,

Your article touches upon the ins and outs of solitude and the collaboration when working in a group with others.  From your perspective, solitude should be valued at a very high level.  I definitely agree with your take on privacy.  Being alone can allow one to gather as many thoughts as possible in certain time period.  It is definitely productive because we are not easily distracted by others or what others have to say.  Alot of times, solitude can bring about the greatest ideas and inventions based on the abilty to take the time to focus and perform.  In addition, I do believe in "groupthink" and its ability to negatively affect a group.  Many times in class or in the workplace, it is obvious that people do not speak up and just go along with what everyone else says.  This does not allow for a full circulation of ideas and definitely does not encourage interaction.  Nonetheless, I do not fully agree with the idea that groupwork is necessarily a bad thing.  Groupwork definitely has its perks.  Groupwork can encourage others to speak up and even create even greater ideas based on the idea of another.  When people work together to solve things, it can bring two entirely different sides to the table.  Although people in groups may not always agree, groupwork can still form positive creations or ideas.  In order to minimize groupthink, members of a group should be forced to write down their ideas on paper before discussion actually takes place.  Therefore, members won't actually just agree with another person or simply not say anything at all.  Group discussions can definitely get caught in the whirlwind of groupthink so it is the members of the group that must take charge and encourage input from every single person present.

This idea of "groupthink" can not only be traced inside of groupwork, however, it can also be found on the internet.  When information is fed to us over the computer or through our cell phones we immediately believe it to be true.  What is mentioned in Andrew Keen's article titled, "The Great Seduction from the Cult of the Amateur", is that often times, "we - those of us who want to know more about the world, those of us who are the consumers of mainstream culture -- are being seduced by the empty promise of the 'democratized' media."  We may believe that what we are reading is significant information; however, alot of times this information is belitting our intelligence by providing us with "less culture, less reliable news, and a chaos of useless information."  I do agree that this can be a negative factor with our technological advancements with information websites such as Wikipedia.  As mentioned in Clay Shirky's article, it becomes apparent that many of us are interested in the "quantity" not the "quality" of information.  Sometimes we can be easily tricked by the amount of information given when really the information may not be true or knowledgable about a certain topic.  I do feel that there are positive sides to the advancements in our technology as mentioned in Shirky's article, as well.  The good thing about Wikipedia is that it allows for people to collaborate with one another about a topic.  Wikipedia has done so well because it allows information to be posted that can improve over time.  As the article indicates, if people are interested enough to read an article then they will be interested enough to improve the facts together. 

All in all, in my opinion, groupwork is what you make of it.  There can definitly be many downsides to working in groups but there can also be downsides to working alone.  Working in a group can put mind blanks or writer's block to a halt.  Group members must encourage independent work to start with and then eventually build up to putting that independent work into one main thought.  I feel that if we are aware of groupthink, it can be stopped as quick as it started. 

Thank you,
Loralyn Sortino

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