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Here Comes the Collective Group

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The more I read books like McGonigan’s Reality is Broken and Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody, the more in awe I am of the power of people. The collective ability of people that both of these authors chronicle is absolutely amazing, and the way that technology is enhancing this ability is even more so. I agree completely when Shirky says; “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviors.” People are taking technology we have, changing the way they use it, and truly changing the world.

Before reading this book I posed a question about the limit to which groups can form. Now, after having read the book I am seeing the lack of limits in which these groups are forming. Groups either for demonstrations, collective information or action have grown to become enormous. The emerging of new technology is allowing people to connect and grow a group like never before. Although in the reading it does not specifically mention the limit to the size of these groups, it seems that they are growing every day.

The second question I posed concerned the possibility of people aligning themselves with too many groups and then being too segmented. Again this question hasn’t been specifically answered in the book, but it seems not (at least so far). Shirky says, “Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become activists themselves.” It’s not that by being over segmented that people aren’t motivated, but instead don’t have an endless resource of time to spend being in a magnitude of groups. By being more motivated in some, and less in others, I believe, would alleviate the over segmentation.

The idea of “Big Brother” is never a thought that I’ve enjoyed, but am seeing the necessity of it in collective group setting. A third question I had after reading the first chapter was if boundaries should be set for a manager to oversee a group? Although there are different examples in the book that sway my opinion both ways, I think that overall there should be. There needs to be somebody held accountable that the intent of the group remains. Wikipedia I think is a positive example of this. Although it is left up to the collective users to add or change information, there are also managers that oversee that it’s being used for the reason it was created. I see negative overseers when examples like government are mentioned. By having strict governments do the monitoring of groups they are both taking away a voice, but also there is a possibility that they don’t have the best intent for those they oversee. People like braking rules and to combat this I think that managers of groups are the best choice, as long as the have the best intentions for the group.

Finally I had a question pertaining to if there were any negatives to so many groups and if all of these groups are just adding to our already complicated lives. Before I read this book I think I looked at the subject of so many groups slightly negatively, but now by seeing so many positive examples of the collective group I think they are very positive for our society (if done correctly). Having groups makes people feel that they are a part of something, but also give a voice to many people who wouldn’t have one otherwise. That is powerful. Our lives are definitely complicated, but groups aren’t something that should be eliminated, but instead embraced and used to help solve some of the world’s problems.

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