The speed of proliferation is astonishing, and the level of emergent organisation impressive. This is no organised advertising campaign, there is no central organiser of the affair, it’s purely fuelled by the power of engagement and the rewards are no more than a slight smug feeling and the sense of belonging to a global phenomenon.
The penalties are not exacting either: indeed, there’s a kind of anti hero clique of friends revelling in their giraffe headed status. It’s cool to be wrong, because by being wrong you get to join the very visible group of fellow misfits. It’s a socially permissive environment to fail: bringing equal benefits to failure and success. Quite interesting really, and leaving us plenty to learn: people love to be in a community, but that community doesn’t have to be one of success, or at least not in a conventional sense. Communities can be counter culture or associated with particular ideas. The sense of membership can be just as strong.
Its easy to dismiss Facebook as trivial, but it’s a great playground, it’s a great place to observe the social side of learning and to participate in the ebb and flow of ideas and communities of ideas. Sometimes those communities form around a particular TV show (like the many conversations last week around Breaking Bad), sometimes around political movements, sometimes simply around an amusing meme.
Social learning is the semi formal layers surrounding the formal: to understand the formal, we have to understand the dynamics of social, and we can learn a lot about that from a simple giraffe.