In chapter two of Shirky’s novel he discusses organizations and how the biggest hurdle for organizations to overcome is the complexity of humans. We all have different attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and values and when there is a group or organization that consistent of a large number of people it’s somewhat amazing that many organizations are able to be successful and achieve the goals and complete task that they are working towards. Shirky claims that groups with 20 members will struggle more than groups with 5 members with completing a task because more people in a group means more individual opinions and beliefs and those issues complicate matters.
After reading this chapter I couldn’t help but think about the United States government. We live in a democratic society meaning the people have a voice and our government is supposed to serve the people. The US government is extremely large; there are two senators from every state and there are 435 members in the House of Representatives. When a bill is being passed in the government it goes through many hurdles before the final decision is made on the bill; often times this process can take a very long amount of time, therefore change in our government is an extremely slow process. The main reason for this is, and I think Shirky would agree, is that there are hundreds and hundreds of different people with different beliefs that affect the outcome of decisions being made in the government.
One issue I think we are familiar with is our military involvement in the Middle East for the past decade. I think it’s safe to say that majority of American civilians agree that the government should pull our soldiers out of there, this is an issue that I have heard debated a lot, especially 3 or 4 years ago, but yet we still have soldiers over there. Now I’m really not trying to be political, when it comes to our military involvement in the Middle East I do not know enough information about what is going on over there to give an opinion that should be taken seriously, but I do think this issue serves as a good example to Shirky’s claim that organizations with a large number of members struggle to gets things accomplished. Many people argue and say that we should pull our soldiers out of the Middle East, but because our government is so large, any type of change or action takes a very long amount of time.
Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington does a good job of showing the tedious process of what a bill goes through to be passed; at times this process can be so tedious that it almost seems inefficient. What makes the process tedious is the complexity of people that is why it is much easier for smaller groups to make decisions than larger groups. The point I’m trying to make with this post is that I agree with Shirky that the larger the group or organization the harder it is for that group to get things accomplished and I think our democratic government is a great example of this. Change is slow for our government because of all the people involved.
So how does social networking play into all this? Well because of social networking it is much easier to form groups now. So does that mean that social networking will make groups more efficient at getting things accomplished? I do not think so, people will always have their individual opinions and beliefs and those affect the decisions we make, whether or not we make those decisions online or face to face.