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Group is its own worst enemy

Much like Clay Shirky I believe a group is its own worst enemy. In that essay he identifies multiple ways in which on-line communities get derailed as they grow. The take away from that essay is there are common negative social patterns which can be avoided and which will strengthen the group.

Social patterns this site will try to avoid:

  • Diluting the content for mass appeal.
  • The vilification of ideas and opinions.

A little more on the vilification of ideas…

“So even if someone is not really your enemy, identifying them as an enemy can cause a pleasant sense of group cohesion. And groups often gravitate towards members who are the most paranoid and make them leaders, because those are the people who are best at identifying external enemies. ” – Clay Shirky

We can see the vilification of writ large in US politics right now. This results in groups planting flags and rallying around certain positions. While it does much for group cohesion it results in a reduction of diversity of opinion. I have a firm belief that this is why we don’t really have many new political ideas. We don’t have enough humility to admit the weaknesses and contradictions in our own beliefs. We think we can model the world and completely understand how it operates and we cling to certain principles. Then we apply those principles everywhere and ignore the contradictions. What we need to do is open our minds and try new things. My hope is that I can further this goal with this platform.


Clay Shirky A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

LambdaMOO Takes a New Direction

Brief Communitree BBS History

Pieter Hintjens Social Architecture

Paul Graham What I’ve Learned from Hacker News