Cartoons As Social Objects

I'm not alone when I cite Hugh MacLeod of GapingVoid as one of my favourite cartoonists on the web. I also really like Alex Noriega, Jessica Hagy, Doug Savage but my all time favourite cartoonist (whose work pre-dates the internet easily) is Michael Leunig. A well drawn cartoon can capture an idea or an emotion in ways that words cannot. So, the other day, Hugh's blog pointed to a slidedeck that he has created outlining how his work is enacting change in the business world. He refers to his cartoons as social objects, explaining the concept further in a page on GapingVoid.

The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the rea­son two peo­ple are tal­king to each other, as oppo­sed to tal­king to some­body else. Human beings are social ani­mals. We like to socia­lize. But if you think about it, there needs to be a rea­son for it to hap­pen in the first place. That rea­son, that “node” in the social net­work, is what we call the Social Object.

It has got me wondering if the idea can be remixed for learning. I mean, education has had learning objects peddled for quite a while now so why not social objects? I think that they already exist anyway in our schools and professional associations, and definitely in learning networks on the web but without the formal identification of such a label. But if I understand Hugh correctly, a well designed social object creates conversation and  draws people to a particular concept or idea. This could be very powerful in places like schools in order to open up fresh thinking, introduce preferred models of practice and to help co-create positive outcomes and learning / social dispositions.

I really like the ideas in Slides 10, 13, 14, 15 and 22. Hugh produces social objects for companies to improve their outcomes. My next step is to see if I can create a cartoon that is a social object for learning. Maybe you might know of one that already fits the bill.

More to come ...

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3 thoughts on “Cartoons As Social Objects

  1. Becca

    Hi Graham,

    I’m an education major at NYU and recently we’ve been looking at blogs produced by actual educators. I stumbled upon yours the other day and have been thoroughly impressed. I love this idea, it’s innovative and fun. And I think your follow up about turning trash cans into monsters was a perfect application. I especially admire that you’re taking education out of the classroom and textbooks and into the real world.


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  3. Graham Wegner

    Hi Becca,
    I am still blown away by the fact that anyone reads this blog at all, let alone someone on the opposite side of the world, so thanks for dropping by. I just need a class to take this idea up because I don’t have my own any more now that I’ve moved into a leadership role. It is funny that I feel more comfortable pitching this idea out to the internet than approaching one of my day to day colleagues with the concept. How long before you become a fully qualified educator?


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