The Facebook Giraffe riddle: the proliferation of messages


The Great Facebook Giraffe Riddle (attribution unknown)

I’m in the fortunate position in being a great lover of giraffes: fortunate in that the proliferation of photos of baby giraffes on Facebook has cheered me up no end. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or don’t exist on Facebook, which amounts to much the same thing…) you must have noticed that there are suddenly a lot of giraffes around. Hundreds of thousands of them in fact. Around the world, people have been attempting to answer a riddle: get the riddle wrong and you have to replace your profile photo with one of the aforesaid giraffe ones.

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.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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6 Responses to The Facebook Giraffe riddle: the proliferation of messages

  1. Pingback: The Facebook Giraffe riddle: the proliferation ...

  2. benoitdavid says:

    I love this…. “It’s cool to be wrong… It’s a socially permissive environment to fail… community doesn’t have to be one of success… sense of membership can be just as strong.”

    I’m in total agreement: it’s important to be part of a group of peers (even if you don’t know each other – even if not face-to-face), to participate, to exchange, and get involved, even just slightly, as I believe that is one of the best way to learn.

    For communities of practice, professional development, a key component for success is to foster this sense of “it’s cool to be wrong… failure is permitted. and everything doesn’t need to be right”. It is only natural for people to “refrain” themselves fro expressing their views and opinions, afraid of being wrong. For me, this ties back nicely with the importance of having good, if not great, social leadership…

  3. Pingback: The Facebook Giraffe riddle: the proliferation of messages | Levi Heiple Online

  4. Excelente é menos; gostaria de explodir uma palavra mais à altura do que você escreveu sobre o grande “desafio” e estar e manter-se errado. a certeza não existe; é bobeira de quem não se dá o direito de pensar.

  5. Pingback: On the third day of Christmas Learning: the sound of jingling bells | Julian Stodd's Learning Blog

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