Monday, March 31, 2014

Preventing Group Think

As Janis put it, "Groupthink refers to a deterioration of mental efficiencyrealitytesting and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures." Kennedywanted to overthrow Castro and his subordinates knew it - which meant thattheyas a groupwere not acting and thinking as intelligently as they could be.

By directly involving himself in the decision makingKennedy caused hissubordinates to come up with a plan that pleased him rather than one thatmade the most strategic sense.

President Kennedy proved capable of learning from his mistakes as his actionsin the wake of the next major crisis that occurred on his watchThe CubanMissile Crisis of 1962prove.

He convened an Executive Committee of the National Security CouncilorEXCOMMcomposed of Vice President Lyndon Johnsonhis brother RobertKennedythen Attorney Generaland other members of his cabinet.

Robert Kennedy took on the role of Devil's Advocateand was tasked withvigorously arguing against contemplated courses of action in order to force thegroup to discuss and debate the contingent merits of different strategies.

By making well-considered movesPresident Kennedy influenced his RussiancounterpartPremier Nikita Khrushchev to tone down the crisis.

The best thing a leader can do to prevent Groupthink is to take a step backfrom his or her teamand allow the group to reach its own independentconsensus before making a final decision.


This article was interesting because it went against groupthink. I can see why groupthink is a positive progressive way of living, but after reading this article I can really see the cons, which I didn’t think about before. Being an artist, I really enjoy working alone. I come up with my own ideas in my head when I have time to be by myself and let my mind wander, without interruption. There are definitely certain types of projects that would work better if a group collaborated, but that can’t be said for everything. In schools, teaching young children with only groups, like the jigsaw classroom is a good thing, because it allows the children to help each other, but it leaves very little room for them to grow as individuals. Sometimes it is important to have to struggle on your own, and figure out a problem by yourself, because there isn’t always going to be other people around to help. I think people should be able to work with a group well, and work individually. People can’t get used to always relying on others, because it is impossible to have other people constantly around to help with every little thing. Another thing that was mentioned in this article was religion, and how some churches are asking people to “love Jesus out loud.” I think this is an issue because something like religious beliefs are very private. People should have the option to keep to themselves and have their thoughts be within them. It isn’t fair for people who are not vocal, and naturally introverted to have to speak out and share everything. That goes for many things in addition to religion, some people prefer not to talk about things, and they should be able to continue to have that freedom.


Heckscher Playground:

I love this playground in Central Park mainly because of its water feature. I had no idea it even existed, it must be great in the boiling hot summers. The view is beautiful as well, with surrounding trees and a all of the city in the distance, which is good for the parents/guardians to appreciate. It is large, so there is a lot of room for many children to play, and many different options of things to play on.

Hudson River Park's Pier 25 Playground:

When I was a kid, climbing was my favorite thing to do. If there was no playground, I would climb the trees. This playground has one of the best climbing structures I've seen. This is also right on the water, so it’s a pleasant place for the parents to sit and relax, because it’s a great view. The floor is made of soft material, so that if a child falls, they won’t get hurt too badly.

I see this playground almost everyday, as I walk by it to get to school. Is is really depressing, as its colors are dull and dark and its surroundings are just large buildings. There are barely any trees, and the ground is pretty hard. The gate around it is also ugly, as it reminds me of jail bars. It may not be a large, important park, but they could have at least made it with bright colors to lighten the mood.

The Need for Solitude and the Taming of Groupthink

Social has become more than a buzzword, but the baseline for every innovation that has changed our society in the last decade. If one were just to study the services being created and utilized, they would judge our culture has fear of being alone. The new Groupthink mentality we subscribe to has transformed not just our leisure time, but our work environment as well. Instead of walled off offices to call our own, we're being forced to interact in groups, using the meeting as a substitute for individual thought. Yet research is at odds with these tactics, showing that creativity, ingenuity and any real stroke of innovation is a byproduct of solitude. Psychologically, artists and scientists are proved to be of a similar mind, usually introverts. Logically, it makes sense. In a social setting, distractions escalate exponentially, whether by indirect social, or sexual behavioral changes we make around depending on the group. The mind alone is best suited to truly focus on a task at hand. And it is generally deep thought that produces innovation, not the immediate demands of a boardroom brainstorming session, but thorough analysis and ultimately, reinvention.
Organizations seem to be adopting the alternative at every turn, despite mounting evidence against it. Programmers from the best and worst companies were polled on the amount of privacy they are allotted and over 60% of the best ones were allowed freedom from group distractions. Advertising agencies in the 1950s originally brought the group brainstorming mentality into vogue, but scientific study has proved that all these sessions truly accomplish is parroting of others ideas, fear of rejection and overall decrease in both quality and quantity. It would seem working pieces of the puzzle independently and assembling them as a group would be the preferred method. And the best tool to this end is the Internet, the place where we can be alone, together. The autonomy of protection the screen offers gives us the respite from distraction that productive requires, yet allows us to stand on each other's shoulders and share ideas.

Groupthink and the Internet's ability to de-individuate

This article from South University in Savannah is an interview with Tamara Avant, the school's Director of the Psychology Program, about groupthink and how it happens/what encourages it. She talks about mostly all of the basics that we discussed in class. She brings up "de-individuation" and how larger groups where your identity is hidden, or even "masked" will encourage violence since responsiblity on the individual is reduced. She also brings up several other factors that may encourage violence through groupthink, such as:
-group size
-physical anonymity
-situational needs (she mentions scarce resources after Hurrican Katrina, and how that encouraged people to mob up and loot because of their necessities)
-gangs and those targeted to join: typically antisocial teens
-being surrounded by "like-minded" people

She gives a very well presented, basic understanding of what it is and how it works.
What her words got me thinking about was that the internet does most of these things automatically. It is a powerful hub for "antisocial" people to express themselves. Youtube videos of people singing in showers, daily blogs about getting beat up in school that are then published online, 14 year old girls singing an acoustic song at her desk. All of these things would never have happened when I was a kid, not in real life at least. These acts take courage to share, and now it takes less. The internet has a way of creating a new type of identity that can be manipulated, deleted, shaped. Online, people are cruel and critical, because they aren't held responsible, "Buttman876" is. Buttman876 is a huge dick, but nobody knows him. This is a powerful form of de-individuation that has already become a powerfully emotionally violent tool in our society. Cyber-bullying is a snowball effect. One vicious comment by an unknown user can open the flood gates. Next thing you know, 50 come rolling in, followed by 5,000.
This is not uncommon. There have been many reported cases of young teens dropping out of schools or even killing themselves due to reactions from cyber-bullying.
I don't see this issue so much as a "groupthink" problem. The issue itself seems to be more associated with the act of online anonymity. Tamara Avant explains that "physical anonymity" can play a powerful role in turning a group into a mob. This goes for the internet as well, only the group is the entire internet. Luckily, the web is too large and uncontrollable a platform for one aspect of human psychology to dominate over the rest. These harsh words are just as easily made as they are dismissed.
You can block users, or navigate away from the harmful page within 2 seconds, at the comfort of your desk. But what remains is that ability to mask yourself. The ability to de-individuate without the presence of others around you. Without that peer pressure...
That is what I find a little worrying. If that idea of personal de-individuation continues, then it is entirely possible that people begin to feel a lack of responsibility for their actions, both on and off the web. If you act one way online, then who's to say that after so many years of behaving as such, that attitude wouldn't reflect back into your "real world" social interactions or actions.

NYC playgrounds

This webpage is titled "New York's Most Amazing Playgrounds" and showcases several parks around New York that stand out among the rest. There are 2 in particular that I found really intriguing and innovative, mostly because they use the ideas of imagination and creativity as a basis for the park's layout and design.

"Imagination Playground" (pictured below)

"imagination Playground" was designed by architect David Rockwell and is inspired from its surroundings, like many of the playgrounds in NYC. This one is located near the Seaport and the park itself is layed out to feel like an old ship. It uses sand and water to reinforce the motif. But what I really find great about this park is that one of the main attractions is this pile of blue foam pieces that can fit together. The kids need to CREATE their own toys! Because of the size of the foam blocks, a child can create a small structure but him/herself, or can team up with a few others and create a larger, more exciting piece. This encourages intergroup interactions through the concept of a "common goal," without the stress of being forced into playing with the others. There is also a large ramp that encircles the sand pit (only available in the summer, and hopefully cleaned regularly) which makes the width of the playground accessible for handicapped children as well.

The next park I found intriguing was one of the 7 playgrounds located in Prospect Park. This one is known as "Vanderbilt Park" and was just renovated in 2010, making it Prospect Park's most recently refurbished playground.

Again, what I found here was a possibility for imagination and learning. Over-structured park limit children's imagination and get them used to conforming, even when it's about playing. Playtime should be wild and adventurous. This park allows that (in a small, urban, kind of way) by providing structures like the one shown above. The piece is well designed and full of possibilities. It is pleasing to the eye, which is important because the parents need to WANT to bring their kids to the park as well. There is a shaded seating area for parents to hang out in, as well as water features and even a rock tunnel. This certainly complements the surrounding trees and rocks of Prospect Park and feels very integrated in that respect. What's even better about this playground is that there is a huge open field right next to it. I envision children playing on these structures and becoming inspired. How many ways can I climb on this? can I hope through this part? Can I fit through here? When the answers aren't obvious within the design, methods must be explored! And when they're motivated by the structures, it will only complement their creative play in the rest of the park. Ideally making more innovative and free-thinking children.

Unique Park Designs

For the unique park designs, I selected parks from different regions in Japan.  

This is the worlds largest indoor "ocean" park. With the sky changing with the different time of day, a huge water slide and others fun activities to keep the whole family happy with their "day at the beach". Most popular during the winter season, this has become an international hot spot. 

Another great park design of Japan are the Zen Gardens which are open to the public to redesign themselves. Quiet and tranquil, these parks are made for fall and spring afternoon for the simple minded. 

An international phenomenon, these parks are on the rooftops of skyscrapers in the major cities of Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. The skyscrapers are filled with apartments, business and shopping malls. Parents are encouraged to drop of their kids for a fun filled day while they are free to conquer business and shopping with no concerns. 

This last park is a personal favorite, growing up in Japan I can still remember looking out of the mouth of this popular creature in the japanese fables. The entire design is within the body, keeping all those playing cool and protected from the sun. It is also perfect for hide-n-seek. 

State Park Designs

For every state, public park designs are individual. This is due to the designs being commissioned at a local level. So the parks we see in New York are different than the parks designed in California. The commissioning of park designs have been varied in spectrum, from artists to large design agencies. They are chosen for specific park propositions, location and for singular or multiple parks. The parks we see in NYC, which are similar throughout the city are not the same as smaller parks in the suburbs.

For the specific question presented: Who/What company designed the varied assortment of similar parks in the city I could not find a clear answer, but feel free to look through the New York State Parks website.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Penn State Groupthink

Penn State Cover-Up: Groupthink in Action is an article that I found that discusses how groupthink was an influence in the Sandusky scandal and the coverup that occurred in order to try to not bring light to the events.  The article brings up a good point that certain groups and organizations, such as greek life and sports, especially in a college setting would be more prone to groupthink.  Especially at larger schools, it seems that these organizations “encourages the conformity of opinion, often around the wrong decision”.  Within this specific situation, there was an inside group (Penn State officials) and an outside group (poor children who were the victims).  They thought it would be “more ‘humane’ to cover up the allegations” for the victims if it were actually true.  This groupthink decision was obviously a bad one, for the truth did come out.  At the end of the article, it brings in another example of how groupthink at schools happens in more than one situation.  I would not have thought of this scandal in terms of groupthink before, but since we learned and understand the topic of groupthink, it makes sense to think of it in that way now.  This brings up questions about what other scandals, at other schools, are also related to groupthink and how certain situations are handled vs. how they should be handled.

Preventing Groupthink

This article discusses the phenomenon of Groupthink in terms of the two major events under President Kennedy. One event was the failure of the invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Yale psychologist Irving Janis looked at this events failings as a result of groupthink. The people in charge of making decisions were making the decisions because they were trying to pleasure the President. The group went into the situation knowing that Kennedy wanted to over throw Castro, so because of this they did not make decisions based on what was good for the situation but what would make the President happy. The other event was the The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Irving Janis asserts that Kennedy understood that his actions effected the decisions that were made at the Bay of Pigs. For decisions to be made on the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy put together a team of people and the group had to make the decisions. He told her brother whom at the time was the Attorney General to play a devils advocate role at all times, in order for the group to come to the best decisions.

This is a great article that details the pros and cons of group work and how groupthink psychology affects the workplace. This article describes the western obsession with the concept of collaboration and why it is not always a good idea. Collaboration works when all parties have a common goal already decided for them and fit special designated roles. It does not work when a concept or plan of action has not been established yet. When people respect one another's skills and abilities group work can be a very constructive method of production or conflict resolution. In turn if the parties working together do not respect each other's ideas or skills then group work is worthless and often detrimental to production quality. Recently a few of my friends and I worked on a collaborative animation project. The project turned out much better then we had hoped for because we worked so well as a team. The reason this worked was because we all wanted to win so badly and we all respected each other's abilities as individual artists while maintaining our own concepts and design ideas. The three of us specialized in different sections of the production and helped each other fill in the holes when there was confusion. We were not afraid to ask "stupid questions" because we felt so comfortable with one another.

The first example of a cool playground in NYC that I found was the Seaside Wildlife Nature Park. This park is incredibly cool with an immersive nautical theme. This theme is perfect for the park's seaside location because kids can play out their ocean themed fantasies with a view of the actual ocean in the distance. The only negative aspect of this park is that it took a whopping 2.49 million dollars to create.


The second example of a good playground in NYC that I found is the Imagination Playground. This park was designed by the architect David Rockwell. This park is very unique with the goal of unconstructed play so children can use their imaginations to their full extent. This form of play is considered to be crucial to the development of children socially and creatively which applies to our playground design project perfectly.


The first example of a terrible playground that I found is the Admiral Triangle Playground. This playground is atrocious surrounded on all three sides by busy streets one of the being the highway. Nothing is more depressing for a kid then seeing millions of unhappy people bustling by as they try to have a good time and use their imaginations. The playground consists of a few stairs and a metal slide. That is it. The sparse playground equipment is old and worn out as well.


The second example of a bad playground that I found is Lozada Playground. With warped rusted metal slides and chipped led based paint it is hard to find a park worse then this. This playground was built in 1987 and it looks like it hasn't been maintained since then. The restrooms are constantly dirty and un stocked. The roof of the restrooms is peeling off due to years of water and sun exposure. Also adjacent to a bustling highway this park is not only physically dangerous but depressing to behold.

New York Playgrounds

New York has some of the most inventive playgrounds in the world. In this post, I will look at three playgrounds in the area and discuss how they should be inspiring playground designs everywhere.

Imagination Playground NYC
This first playground should help designers think outside of the box. The playground itself consists of modular components that can be put together to form elements of a playground. This idea is innovative in both how a playground looks and how it is interacted with. The idea of this playground is to bring out the imagination and creativity of the children, which is a notion that all playgrounds should strive to accommodate to some degree.

Science Hall Playground
The second playground I chose is the playground at the New York Hall of Science. This playground is interesting because it incorporates many different elements of science into the design. Children can go and have a good time, while being amazed by the small scientific principles. The playground also incorporates a waterworks area that requires several children working together to operate. This is a good mechanism to bring children of different backgrounds together.

Pier 6 Playground
The third playground I chose to look at is the Pier 6 playground. This playground does a beautiful job incorporating playground elements into the landscape. This approach to playground design creates an environment where people can come together and have a good time.

NY Playgrounds

Throughout NYC playgrounds, there is a decent difference between those that are good and those that are bad.  Two playgrounds that I think are interesting, good playgrounds are Teardrop Park, in downtown Manhattan in Battery Park City,  and Imagination Playground, at Burling Slip near South Street Seaport.  Starting with Teardop Park, I find the playground well designed to fit into a landscape.  It seems as if you are in a different place, other than New York because of the atmosphere of rocks and trees that interact with the childrens’ environment.  The park was designed for this reason, allowing children to interact with these natural materials in order to have fun.  Imagination Playground also goes along with this idea of interacting with the environment to create something fun.  This playground allows the children to manipulate and create their own space with sand, water, and loose parts.  By making the kids imagine and build something also allows them to work together to create forts etc.  

After these two great parks, I just chose to look at two parks in the area, which I have seen and experienced that I believe are not great.  They are the Willoughby Playground, right next to campus, and the Marcy Playground, down the street on Myrtle.  Both of these playgrounds are just generic, standard playgrounds that do not interact with the children on any other level.  They are just the standard structures for playgrounds; this does not work on the level of interacting with people for an outside group because a lot of what they can do is singular and do not need to have others to participate.  

In comparing the parks, it makes one wonder why these parks have to be this way.  Even though there is a limited amount of space for the playground, that does not mean they cannot be interesting and interactive.  This thought should be challenged so that children in all different areas get a rich playground for interaction.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

NYC Playgrounds

The East 72nd Street playground is a nice NYC playground because it has unique features such as a climbing/ wide sliding pyramid and tire swings rather than individual ones. The pyramid acts as a non complicated central attraction that kids use as a home base for their play, which creates opportunities for different groups to cross. The wide slides allow more than one child to to use them at a time. The tire swings are a great feature because heavy tires are not fun for an individual child to use, as they wouldn't be able to get a lot of lift and motion out of them. With multiple kids the swings are much more functional. They can use teamwork to cause the swing to move, or hang off of it together as an hanging unstable platform. Either way, the close proximity that a tire swing requires is really conducive to contact. Children usually go to playgrounds alone or in small groups of 2,3,4 children, the amount of children that can fit on the slides and swings exceeds the amount that typically go to playgrounds together, which encourages the inclusion of new group members. There are also tunnels where kids like to congregate and rest. A quiet area such as a tunnel is a great place for kids to sit and socialize in between active play. Friendships can be built on those quieter moments.

Teardrop park playground is unique in that the features are based off of natural boulders and rugged landscapes that do not exist in the city. Located at Warren St. and Murray St. in Manhattan, the playground acts as an urban oasis for local children who see a whole lot of concrete and synthetic materials in their lives. The fact that the kids who visit are being displaced from their normal environment (in a positive way) is likely to encourage them to be more open minded than if they were entirely in their element. The water feature is a starring element that is sure to attract both the children and their watchful parents. It's a small enclosed area that everyone will want to have a part in, facilitating interactions between parents and among their kids.

The Playground for All Children is pretty self explanatory in it's title. The Queens location was designed with features such as signs in braille, a network of wheel chair accessible ramp paths and amphitheater style seating surrounding courts that might be inaccessible to certain children. There is a sprinkler area which i feel is very beneficial for the above mentioned reasons. One of the most exciting features that are fully inclusive, yet do not appear to be specifically for disabled or non disabled kids is the mini village. There are little shelters that imitate a school house, a fire station, a residential house, and different vehicles. These shelters are amazing for pretend play, which fosters friendships that can include all children.

Playgrounds-What does Inequality Look Like?

This is direct comparison of two different playground; Union square playground vs Harlem playground.
As clearly stated on title, "Playgrounds-What does Inequality Look Like?", Video clip is edited by juxtaposition of rich and poor neighbors of NYC. By contrast of union square playground where it has good quality of materials in terms of safety for kids, Harlem playground facilities are old and vulnerable. This video clip not only shows the reality of two different playground condition but also shows how inequality goes along with economical issues.

New playground typology

This Playground project is done by The Centre for Visual Arts to develop unconventional, inventive and playful objects for new public playground in the western Netherlands city of Dordrecht. What I found interesting in this project is that architect aimed to engage kids of all ages in densely populated suburbs. This Carousel contains a forest of revolving ropes that are set at different heights. The carousel is strategically designed so that as one moves away from the center, the length of the ropes become shorter. This divides the carousel into different spaces and age groups, sending younger children towards the center to play while taller, older children can hang on the outside. This strategical play have strong character of inter group situation that diverse age group will be gathered however will be segregated by their age while their play.

*This project is under modification for construction and will eventually attract many visitors and residents to Governeusplein square. Dordrecht is very dense area and does not include much infrastructure like this, so it is sure to be a center of play and education 

What are good / bad prejudice?



  • Male Pride And Female Prejudice
    This article talks about prejudice of sexual role in the marriage. Misperception that people may have for their marriage which is man should have better pay checks than their wife and it is general idea that woman marry a man with better incomes. I believe that this study made effort to have people involve in this issue because marriage issue is a familiar topic that one must have their interest in. By giving out comparison examples, it clears out what are the prejudice that people have and what needs to be changed within the culture of marriage.

  •  Indian couple who lost their law firm jobs due to 'forbidden love' at center of first caste discrimination tribunal
     I think this article shows some good example of what are the critical prejudice that are still exist in current state of time. Like an example of 'blue eyes and brown eyes example' that we've watched during session, this example has some convincing story and ideas that how prejudice brings negative affects to people and regulate one's freedom. Using a case of Indian couples who get unfairly fired is a good for people to remember unfairness of prejudice and likely to stay in their mind.

  • Bad news and good news about racial prejudice
   I personally believe that this type of article does give clear sense what are the intentions that writer had initially, however it does not emotionally sticks into the topic and problems within the articles. It clearly states what are the racial prejudice in United States even though 'racial equality' have been publicly stated. It gives experiments by testing comparison of treatment between Caucasian and colored people. And gives out statistical numbers. However, this type of experiments do not give any impression and will not convince them. Because it does not gives out solution of the problem.


  • Food and Prejudice
    I personally think that what this article delivered as a content may be controversial. I do think that there is  a misperception to food that one have toward unfamiliar food. However what it says in article is too generic and does not convenience readers fully to the problems.