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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Idiocy of the Crowds?

We have seen a surge in community effort to acheive general good. Linux is a shining example of this phenomenon. So many developers who have never met each other, have conspired to make a nice OS. Dave Freedman talks about the negative aspects of collabration. Link . I do agree with him, I have experienced it myself.

As far back as 1972, in his now classic book, Victims of Groupthink, Yale psychology researcher Irving Janis theorizes that groups often breed a false confidence that leads to unsound decisions none of the individuals in the group would have made on their own. In the 1990s, research by Purdue psychology researcher Kip Williams shed light on "social loafing"--that is, the tendency of people in groups simply to not try as hard as individuals. In fact, the notion that individuals outthink and outdecide groups is so well established among experts that they don't bother to study it anymore. Instead, the hot question among psychologists and organizational behaviorists is why the rest of us persist in keeping this wrong-headed notion alive. "We've been trying to find out what seduces us into thinking teams are so wonderful," says Natalie Allen, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario who has studied what she calls "the romance of teams."

Many times I have found myself surrounded by people who know squat about even the basic computer concepts, and want to design next-gen software. Now, the conclusion of this article seems right. Dave Freedman for president!
It's not time to swear off meetings and group efforts, online or otherwise. But it makes sense to be more selective about how we enlist them.

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