How Our Tech Helps Us Get Along – or Not

Bluntly speaking, we are more likely to cooperate in a group when those who don’t get punished.Darwin had a blind spot. It wasn’t that he didn’t see the role of cooperation in evolution. He just didn’t see how important it is.” Little has changed until relatively recently.

We were raised to compete because we were taught it was a matter of survival of the fittest. Yet, as David Brooks noted, even today, some believe in upfront combat and some in consensus.

Speaking of working together (or not), in many situations experts are not as accurate as a large group can be. “In fact, large groups, structured properly, can be smarter than the smartest member of a group.”

Want more insights on when and how we will act to accomplish something better together than apart? Explore The Cooperation Commons, a project co-sponsored by The Institute for the Future and today’s interviewee, the ever colorful, Howard Rheingold.

Last February this somewhat unconventional Stanford professor won a MacArthur Foundation grant to create a social media virtual classroom, “to show use how and why to use social media. What’s worked and what hasn’t, so far, in this experiment – and how can we learn from his experience, to hone our use of social media? Unlike many other academics, as Rheingold has written, “Talking about public opinion making is a richer experience if you’ve tried to do it.”

A veteran commentator on participatory and social media, he covers Second Life, flash mobs and group swarming that inspired Improv Everywhere, our instinctive desire to participate in a compatible group, ways the faces of political candidates influence voting, civic participation and the proliferation of uses for cell phones to riot, buy, protest, protect and play together.

Following up on how cell phone use is changing us, read the new book, by sociologist Rich Ling: New Tech, New Ties: How Mobile Communication Is Reshaping Social Cohesion.

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with Kare Anderson

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