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Power in Groups

October 14, 2010

I.

I can’t stop wondering why certain pieces of art are well-known around the globe, and others aren’t. Especially those vague paintings that make no sense (to me at least). The reason is that an enormous number of people, at a certain period of time, have agreed that these paintings are good. Think about it, if I consider a drawing beautiful, it means nothing, but if millions of people consider it beautiful, then, for all intents and purposes, it is great art. And the irony is that subsequent works buy the same artist will have a much easier path to success.

Facebook: Why did it succeed over other social networking tools like Hi5, Myspace, and many others? Ultimately,  it all boils down to the masses. Of course, such mass appeal has its causes and preconditions, but even then, many sites attain those preconditions and never succeed. And again, subsequent success is much easier, the first million users tell their friends, and then these new users also spread the word, and the numbers grow exponentially. Success brings further success.

The question then, is can we use this idea to consciously promote Jordanian and Arab businesses (Ikbis coming to mind)? Can you imagine the power 300 million Arabs can potentially have?

II.

Now on a smaller and more realistic scale…

Benjamin Franklin (at age 21 nonetheless) created a group of hand-picked individuals called the Junto. This group met regularly to discuss ideas regarding philosophy, wealth, and improvement. What I really is the organization employed by Franklin, there was a series of questions that he devised which guided the discussions. And the best thing, is that they came out with practical ideas, the first library, first public hospital, police departments, and many others.

This seems like an idea that could be implemented. Of course, we have the benefit of internet forums which may be a suitable (if full of potential crap) alternative. But still, live meetings, that’s powerful! Is anyone interested?

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8 Comments
  1. Ehab,

    Regarding why somethings are much more popular than others, there has been some attempts to explain that scientifically, the most popular one being memes (rhymes with genes). It is interesting, but not a theory, only a postulation.

    Group thinking in general, is a term that have negative connotations. Look for Asch conformity experiments.

  2. Ehab,

    I would have to agree with Haitham on the group think idea. It’s not well received, but I dig it! Two minds are better than one and so on and so on.

    I also think the problem is, we are all talk and no action. I want to see some action and not just talk…I remember a cartoon drawing that I saw when I was younger about an Arab leader…He had his mouth open wide and lots of words were coming out but there was no action. Do keep me posted on how this develops, I am interested.

  3. Haitham,

    Hmm, interesting. Ok, so there is a tendency in human beings to conform. Does that mean that group thinking is useless? Haven’t you ever benefited from a friend’s idea?

    Samar,

    Talk and no action indeed…

  4. Ehab,

    Were are talking about group thinking, and not discussions =) Discussions are the best thing that we ever created. Group thinking on the other hand is not.

    In discussions you already thought about it, and then given another chance to contemplate your thoughts, in light of that discussion. You need to reach no consensus. You can think of it as reading a book. Group thinking usually demands some form of consensus, which leads to compromising part of your freedom.

  5. Haitham,

    Ok, I think I see what you’re saying now, but that is a mere technicality, right? The idea is for people to meet and benefit, however that is done…

    Are you saying that scheduled meetings between people (with a preformed goal) would lead to a compromise? I think there can be an exchange of beneficial ideas without having to reach a certain consensus.

  6. True Ehab. What I meant is the case when we discuss towards coming up with laws or strategies or any thing that needs a consensus, or a unified outcome at the end.

    But in general, you need people who are smart and audacious to say what they think is good without fearing that they might look stupid.

  7. Haitham permalink

    Reading the comments I have nothing more to add I guess 🙂

    *Wisdom of the crowd,,, with a twist may be 😀

    H.

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