Monday, March 26, 2012

Dear Susan Cain,

Your idea of a reformed "groupthink" was intriguing, mostly because I read two articles this week that argued the extremes of both the positive and negative aspects. Your point of introverted thinkers was significantly important to me. I agree completely that some people work better individually. After experiencing a job in both retail and business, I've realized that the collaborative atmosphere is much more pressing in the workplace in that the employees are no longer sectioned off with individual cubicles, but rather contained in shared spaces. During my desk job, I did feel as if a lot of my privacy was no longer intact and that my fellow colleagues had full view of all my movements. In the beginning of your argument, you said that "culturally, we’re often so dazzled by charisma that we overlook the quiet part of the creative process" and gave the example of the Apple creation. I feel as if the constant dependency on the internet today promotes this idea of group information collaboration and seems to translate into our real-life activities and judgement.

On the pro-group think side, Clay Shirky explored the popularity and history of Wikipedia in his article, "The Power of Organizing Without Organizations." Shirky made the point that the site's informative stature did not result from interest of experts, but from the interest and knowledge of everyday people. It's the psychological tendencies of participants and users that makes the site so successful and frequently visited. In this light, information collaboration is very helpful and productive.

On the other hand, Andrew Keen's seemingly averse attitude towards the internet argues another good point that many of the material posted online is "transforming culture into cacophony" (14). Because of the power of the anonymous and the ability of almost absolute free speech, it becomes very difficult to discern fact from fiction. Group thought develops a clutter of useless and useful information.

In the end, I decided that my opinion resonated much more similarly to yours. Group collaboration is a great idea to push, but in moderation. I think that in our culture, when something works out positively, we tend to become frivolous in its promotion.

Rebecca Cheng   

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