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Starling Murmuration

Have a look at this video (a few static images kick off the video, but the fun stuff begins shortly after):

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

I’m always looking for metaphors, models, and analogies that can tease out learning and knowledge, and the social connective actions that give rise to both. This week, for example, in #change11, Dave Cormier is discussing rhizomes as a metaphor or way to think about learning. Similarly, starling murmurations provide a brilliant example of how systems, comprised of individual agents, can synchronize to produce fascinating activity.


  1. I used to gaze transfixed at the starlings that gathered and performed like this near Central Station in Glasgow. I knew there would be a depressingly simple scientific explanation for the behaviour but I never sought it out – happier to indulge the thought that there was some sort of aesthetic satisfaction being gained by the birds as they ducked and weaved together.

    Later at university I wrote a story I now realise I should have called ‘Murmuration’ from the perspective of one of the starlings. If memory serves, he drifts off from the group and flies about watching humans for a day – as they funnel into trains, offices and factories – hoping without any conviction that these poor flightless creatures were gleaming some pleasure from their activities. He is about to give up when he comes across a school playground with children caught in one of those chaotic endless games of chase and flies back to his swooping flock content that people aren’t so stupid after all.

    Monday, November 14, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  2. Rosa A. Ojeda Ayala wrote:

    They do beauty, don’t they?

    Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink