We tend to be highly engaged with social media in social spaces. They have a narrative, stream of consciousness feeling to them, often more reportage than considered opinion. The act of authoring and creation is every bit as important as the act of consumption and reading (or sometimes more so). For many people, the size of the audience is irrelevant, the means is the end in itself.
There’s certainly no assessment at the end and the driver is internal, not external forces. In some ways, you can measure ‘success’ by looking at the pattern and nature of associations, something that Klout or PeerIndex are starting to do, generating in the process a new thing to obsess about. How’s my social score this week?
Seeing as mine languishes somewhere around that of an unpopular tax inspector, this is one particular social fix i can live without. For now anyway.
Whilst i may like to feel that the success of social media is due to the fact that they inhabit the informal space, and that any attempt by businesses to subsume them into the formal will simply kill off everything that works, i don’t actually believe that this is the case. The motivators and drivers that coerce me to fixate on whatever the latest favourite is in the informal space (MySpace is back in fashion this week), can probably be used to engage with me in the formal one. I am probably more predictable than i’d like to believe.
The challenge for businesses looking to engage in the social space is to do something worthwhile. Learning tasks need to be defined; not in terms of specific learning objectives necessarily, but rather in terms of how the ‘social’ fits in. The worst applications will be the ones where the ‘social’ layer is simply an add on, where you are effectively just asking people to access materials through a social channel.
Social is instinctively about community, about forging links and building bonds. Applications in the world of learning need to reflect this. We need to combine the technology that facilitates learning with a learning design that relies on social interaction. We need to help create the desire to engage and ensure that the technology facilitates that engagement. In other words, don’t try to make the space formal!