Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Paradox of Networks

I listened to the disadvantages of networks with a great deal of interest last night. You see, I'm a glass half full kind of person, my blindspot is the downside of things. I guess the GFC was a great eye-opener in the danger of inter-dependencies of a networked society - that this inter-connectedness makes us all more vulnerable to an impact in one (now non-isolated) part as it ripples through the web.

Anyway, this talk was great and it touches on something that Ralph Stacey wrote about in his complexity books. By actually concentrating on the group - and their outcomes, the individual is actually (paradoxically) given a greater respect, a more noble impact with their contribution. This is the central paradox - that group think, the wisdom of the crowd, is only maximised if all the people in the group are independent, are individuals. Everyone has to be free to voice their own concerns, not be swayed by what others think of their opinions. Because the downside is a circle mill, where we all goose-step into oblivion. Is this consumerism?

I've been returning to a problem posed to us by one of my Design professors - that we all want to be individuals, but belong to a group. Eat our cakes. We are defined by who we belong to, as much as we are by our thoughts and actions.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

There must be a fine line between having the courage to speak your convictions and not alienating yourself from the group with your opinions. A fine balance...

No comments: