Friday, June 05, 2009

Lets all get together for a big Group Hug!

Are we humans wired to be part of a clique? Is it essential for us to form group identities and rely less on our individuality?

I've been playing around in a rather large community for the last six months. It is tied to one of those websites which were, as I understood it, originally begun as a jump point for researchers. Well, as it goes, the site has, or actually was when I joined, a big group of cliques which play off each other for fun, or, depending on your point of view, fan the flames of divisiveness.

I am actually having a hard time sticking to my goal of hanging with the site for the length of a year. This is not an uncommon goal in my observations of culture and people. Once I decided to spend 1 year watching 2 soap operas trying to understand the phenomenon. I can't say that I ever got much insight from that experiment, but I did stick it out (which says quite a lot about the state of Question and Answer websites.

It is interesting to note that regardless of the community, one will always find scammers, cons, frauds, spammers and predators. I, myself, having had a bit of a run in now and then with those kind of people, tend to stay out of situations which divulge any personal information about myself. Yet, I am always surprised at how people who profess to be so smart are so quick to accept some contrived story from a person they do not know.

In less than 6 months, I have come to recognize that the site is mostly insipid stuff - questions asked with hopes that 'friends' will raise said question into hierarchy by assigning 'points'. The questions do not have to be important, relevant or even interesting. They simply have to catch the attention of other people who have "points" to give away.
Now I find this a sad state of affairs -- research is limited to websites like WIKI which is also contributed to by people like me, some benign, some clique-ish who might, or might not, have anything useful to add to an entry.
What happened to the days of using the internet to research "real" topics, administrated by "real" professionals? Have they all been delegated to subscription websites? Is it really true that in order to access real information, a person has to pay for it?

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