This morning on Ellen, I saw the perfect example of one of the main points of discussion for Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody”. Shirky explains that group formation has become easier and faster with the use of new media today. On Ellen, a group of eight hikers came together based on a post online about a dog stuck in the mountains. A couple was hiking and saw the dog in a rocky terrain and although they could not move the dog alone, they knew something needed to happen fast or the dog would die. After posting about it online, the eight hikers went out together and were able to coax the dog and carry him to safety. Later, they found out a man had been hiking with the dog when the dog was injured and the man felt he had to leave the dog behind (not sure how someone could ever do that to their pet). This story follows last weeks reading which gave a prime example of how word can spread and how group formation can be much stronger than an individual (p.161).
In chapter 2 of “Smart Mobs” by Howard Rheingold, he discusses various elements that are essential to keep a group intact. On page 36, he lists what sociologist Elinor Ostrom argued in 1990 keeps groups together that had shared public goods for centuries. One element that makes the list is “A graduated system of sanctions used”. This is the one main component point that can stop people from free riding in society. It can be so hard to sanction people online because you are not face to face with them. Peer-to-peer social pressure works well because we all want to keep a good reputation (p.37). But how can this be applied to groups online? In the case of the hikers, if one of them did not show up, he or she may have felt bad- but it ends there. No one knows who that person really is on the other end of the internet. Think about how much your peers influence you whether you claim to be different and an “individual”. Can this be applied online? What are some examples of social pressure at work online?