20.36, Monday 3 Jan 2011

Speaking of group dynamics (as I did, briefly), the Group dynamics page on Wikipedia has a really good References section that mentions Bion and Forsyth amongst others.

And on that topic, I didn't remember that Clay Shirky's (now classic) essay A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy references Bion's ideas so heavily. In particular, he runs through Bion's three patterns that groups enter when avoiding a more sophisticated purpose: sex talk; identification and vilification of external enemies; and religious veneration. (These are archetypes of more complex behaviours that you'll definitely recognise.)

Says Shirky: So these are human patterns that have shown up on the Internet, not because of the software, but because it's being used by humans.

In A Group Is, Shirky defines "social software," examines it, and sets out what to design for. This essay is nearly 8 years old and I'd forgotten how detailed and foundational it is.