anthropology · behavior · creativity · culture · happiness · play · Social · technology · youtube

Lolcats and the Harlem Shake: Play on the Internet


An article from the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team published in Fast Company talks about why we play on the Internet; it’s a really good dive into the need and importance for play in our lives and share that playful experience with others, and how as we move towards a more digital space we are taking that need to share play with us. It is marketing/branding focused, but the message is clear; we all need play and are making space for it, at least in our Internet lives:

We [netizens] uploaded over half a million variations of Harlem Shake to YouTube in the past few months. Google searches for Cat GIFs hit an all-time high last month. And we took 380 billion photos last year–that’s 10% of all the photos taken . . . ever. But let’s be honest–these memes are fun, but they don’t matter, right? They’re pretty much a waste of time.

As the head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning team, it’s my job to work with brands and creative agencies to help develop their ideas in the digital space. So I had to ask: Why would we be doing so much of all this “visual play” if it really means so little to us?
To get to the bottom of these memes, we assembled a team of original thinkers–anthropologists, digital vanguards, and content creators–to dig a little deeper into this “visual web.” We also spoke to gen-Cers–the people who grew up on the web or behave as though they did–and who thrive on creation, curation, connection, and community.

The research showed us that far from distracting us from more serious things, these viral pictures, videos, and memes reconnect us to an essential part of ourselves.

It may seem that all we’re doing is just capturing every mundane moment. But look closely. These everyday moments are shot, displayed, and juxtaposed in a way that offers us a new perspective. And then all of a sudden these everyday moments, places, and things look . . . fascinating.

As kids, that happens all the time because everything is new. Everything is unlike. And we aren’t constrained by the rules about what “goes together.” Why else was putting the Barbie in the toy car wash more fun than putting the car in the car wash?

Read the whole article here: Memes With Meaning: Why We Create And Share Cat Videos And Why It Matters To People And Brands

behavior · children · cognition · education · learning · play · Social

Montessori Google Doodle

Friday’s Google doodle honoring Maria Montessori’s 142nd birthday.

Have you noticed Google’s doodle for today yet? It is in honor of Maria Montessori, founder of the Montessori style of learning, which focuses on open-ended, free-form learning, which involves a lot of play. From PC Magazine:

Google on Friday honored Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori with a homepage doodle celebrating her 142nd birth anniversary.

The drawing features some of the tools that form the basis of Montessori’s educational methods, which emphasize hands-on, individualized learning within mixed age groups in a child-friendly setting.

After working in insane asylums with mentally handicapped children, in 1904 she began re-engineering the field of children’s education. She believed that all children have an inner drive to learn, and that children learn best when in a safe, hands-on learning environment.

Montessori also found that children help teach each other when put into groups with other kids of their own age range. She believed that teachers should pay close attention to students, not the other way around.

Her early efforts were so successful that she amassed a large following of parents and teachers who wanted to learn her methods. She later gained support from Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, and Alexander Graham Bell, who founded the Montessori Educational Association, headquartered in Washington D.C.

Read the full article.

Thanks Google for showcasing a great woman who was a pioneer in creating more playful and therefore better learning environments for kids.

Hope everyone has a great looong weekend before school starts up for a lot of people (appropriate timing to honor Montessori, eh?), filled with lots of learning, exploration, and playful environments.

 

behavior · community · culture · happiness · Social

At Google, groups are key to the company’s culture – San Jose Mercury News

Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...
Being part of a social group at work provides a pillar of support. Image via Wikipedia

Company culture seems to be this ethereal idea that no one can really wrap their head around, but “they know it when they see it.” They also know that employees having a strong connection with peers at work and a social buy-in to their employer promotes loyalty, worker productivity, and less absenteeism. This is an interesting profile of one aspect of Google’s work culture and community – creating mini support groups and internal communities.

Groups have always been an integral aspect of life at Google, but as the company approaches 30,000 employees, they have become an ever more critical mooring for new and veteran employees at a company trying to assimilate “Nooglers” at a pace of more than 100 a week. Many valley companies have groups for employee minority or cultural groups, but Google goes further, actively encouraging, and sometimes evenAdvertisementproviding financial support, for employees to organize special-interest groups ranging from economic theory to photography.

Google has 19 “Employee Resource Groups” or ERGs, employee-initiated entities that receive
financial support from the company and represent social, cultural or
minority groups…

more via At Google, groups are key to the company’s culture – San Jose Mercury News.

The article goes on to point out, and this should be a no brainer, that having a healthy, enriching work environment is also crucial to overall individual wellness and work fulfillment. Many companies are afraid to let their teams “goof off.” Maybe they should consider it “Googling off.”