Technorati founder Dave Sifry writes, "Right now, we're adding 8,000-9,000 new weblogs every day, not counting
the 1.2 Million weblogs we already are tracking. That means that on
average, a brand new weblog is created every 11 seconds. We're also
seeing about 100,000 weblogs update every day as well, which means that
on average, a weblog is updated every 0.86 seconds."
8,000 a day translates to almost 3
million new weblogs in a year. Not bad. Surely we're going to see many
great new bloggers in 2004. I'm looking forward to finding them!
Geoff Cohen asks, "Could we architect social software that fought groupthink? Or does it
just make the gravitational attraction of consensus, even flawed
consensus, ever so much more irresistible?"
I think the key to avoiding unhealthy levels of groupthink has to do
with designing spaces that consistently exert pull upon outsiders (or social hackers or community straddlers),
so as to keep the air fresh. As long as they feel welcomed, outsiders
are able to inject an essential dose of criticism into a group's
deliberations, which will help steer it out of groupthink potholes.
I think the blogosphere exhibits this kind of "outsider pull" much more
than topic-focused forums. This is because a blog lets you expose a
complex identity while a topical forum requires you to leave out many
things that would be offtopic. Even if you do participate in several
forums, almost all the time your identity gets fragmented and people
are not likely to see your other facets. (I must note, however, that
isolation between facets can be useful in some situations, as danah boyd argues in her thesis.)
But what about action? A diverse group has fewer blind spots, but on
the other hand, agreement in such a group can be harder to establish,
so there is a real possibility that the group will go nowhere beyond
conversation. Is a core of agreed-upon ideas necessary for group action
to take place? I think so. Does this mean that group action requires groupthink?
Not necessarily, because some people are able to act upon ideas without
believing in them so strongly they can no longer challenge them.
So, I figure, you could have a group that effectively acts as if it
were "of one mind", yet will challenge itself when the time is ripe to
do so. The scientific community likes to think of itself as such a
group, though challenges to established ideas propagate socially, one
individual at a time, and sometimes require a generation of scientists
to die out. I heartily recommend Thomas Kuhn's book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" to anyone who's interested in these dynamics. If you don't have time to read it all, here are an outline and a synopsis by Prof. Frank Pajares.
(Speaking of audio technology, Alf recently blogged on how easy it is to remove vocals from songs.
Invert one channel and subtract it from the other one. Voice is
left/right symmetric and so cancels out, while the other layers are
usually asymmetric and won't disappear.)