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,