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

The value of exclusivity

Bruce Muirhead


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…



Bruce Muirhead

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