Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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

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