Why private groups still have a place in our public world.

The value of exclusivity

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The 21st century has brought with it a new age of public connectivity. We now reap the benefits daily of the spread and proliferation of everything from social media platforms to digital knowledge sharing mediums. The ability for people throughout the world to share what they know and have their say in situations that affect us all is both profoundly impactful and something worth celebrating.

However, this rush towards a public future is also seen by many as a rejection of the private groups of our past.

Indeed, it’s no secret that the term ‘private’ has become somewhat of a taboo in the digital age. We often think of private discussion as taking place within shadowy communities. We conjure images of those who work quietly behind the scenes for their own aims or goals to the detriment of others.

In part, this is an understandable point of view. The concept of some private groups and the deep-running negative connotations they raise are nothing new for humans as a society. This is why the often-referenced reason for the rejection of private groups in digital spaces is to eliminate ingroup and outgroup mentalities.

This also is an understandable pursuit. As many harmful interactions, from schoolyard bullying to racial discrimination have their roots in the idea of creating exclusivity of a group, idea or discussion. Something that unfortunately can also be easily translated into a digital space.

But at the same time, we must also remember that in their purest form, private groups and the concept of exclusivity are not inherently a negative thing.

To simply say that the core concept of a public and private group is at odds is to ignore both the intent and the reasoning for either a public or private group to exist.

Both have their unique strengths and if given the opportunity, both can play a role in assisting us in furthering our goals.

A well-defined example of where this is used to effect within the digital realm is the crowdsourcing of ideas online.

A public group is created to offer knowledge and provide insight concerning the possible direction or future of an idea.

A private group then takes this input and translates it into something tangible, a method that has seen some truly amazing advances throughout the past few decades.

The reason behind this success is that these public and private groups are created with the aim of engagement rather than exclusion.

Don’t see public and private groups as either-or. Instead see both as varying levels of engagement, with exclusivity serving as a medium for gauging investment rather than enforcing exclusion.

Within a public group, many people may be willing to contribute what they know towards the betterment of something they believe in. However, they may not be willing or able to give anything more than their knowledge to see that thing come to fruition.

This is where a private group becomes a truly positive force. As it allows those with the engagement and willingness to pursue a common goal further to work within a like-minded collective, without disrupting the wider community around them.

In this case, the exclusivity of this private group is something created not to keep people out, but to make sure that those wanting to give more to a pursuit have the means to gauge their commitment before enlisting.

A second example of this methodology in practice, albeit in a more organic manner, is our own project at Mindhive.

The idea of a public-private space is one that the digital age has allowed us to facilitate to its fullest. With multiple stages of groups and grouping available, the line between what is public and what is private within Mindhive begins to blur instantly.

But what makes the digital domain so crucial to this being successful within Mindhive, is how it allows us to create a seamless transition between public and private spaces where necessary. As a discussion runs its course in a public space, the option exists to move it into a more intimate private setting. In this exclusive space, thought and action can be furthered by those truly invested in what’s being created. This is without even mentioning that a marrying of both public and private groups allows those who work better within a specific space to contribute more than they otherwise would outside of it.

By embracing these unique benefits and finding a place for both public and private groups within our framework, we’ve seen some amazing thought and action to take place within Mindhive.

Now it’s just a matter of seeing where this new age of community building takes us next.

This article was originally published in the Mindhive Blog on 25th June, 2020.

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Mindhive | ex — Eidos, Boilerhouse, Basement, Margaret Marr | Speaker, Author | Bringing the shared economy to problem-solving #collectiveintelligence

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