December 29, 2007

Social Objects

I've received comments and queries about the concept of social objects referenced in my post "Teen Creating Online Content." I attributed the phrase to High MacLeod. A more accurate attribution is that Hugh is a proponent of the concept and master practitioner of using social gestures to create social objects in marketing his clients' products or services. See this and this, where Hugh discusses social objects.

Hugh got the phrase from Jaiku's Jyri Engestrom.

The idea of social object scales from a weekly gathering of a few neighbors tying quilts at the local church, encompasses Web 2.0 marketing and capturing attention share, and applies to education and pedagogy, as Dr. P has said.

Be careful.

The approach to the creation of a sustainable social object ought to be oblique, patient, natural, unforced, without compulsion. Yes, you could use the word viral, but let's not. The gestures made within or toward a particular society (e.g., the quilting bee, the nursing home in Iowa, the set containing patrons of Trader Joe's, teens who are home-schooled or in independent study programs, drinkers of uniquely labeled wine that has an interesting story, or university honors students) must be genuine, honest, sincere.

The idea of social objects respects the intelligence and independence of a society's constituents.

A marketer or teacher or leader or peer makes social gestures; the society accepts or rejects or is ambivalent. Emergence of a social object is subject therefore to lassie-faire dynamics.