Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BACK IN FOCUS---PAY ATTENTION! The gates of attention allow very few things to come in."

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, (pronounced "CHICK-sent-me-high-ee"), has spent a lifetime considering ways to transform a random walk into an exhilarating chase... through the use of "flow"... a finely tuned sense of rhythm, involvement, and anticipation... a state of "intense emotional involvement" and timelessness that comes from immersive and challenging activities...

It is so obvious that I need to transform this blog (and my life) into more than a random walk in and out of my LightCache...

In FLOW we are "...completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost. "

[An activity]..."that promotes flow is like a gourmet meal. You start off with the appetizers, move on to the salads and entrées, and build toward dessert. Unfortunately, most [activities] are built like a cafeteria. You pick whatever you want. That sounds good at first, but soon it doesn't matter what you choose to do. Everything is bland and the same. [Activity] designers assume that the visitor already knows what to choose. That's not true. People [become involved] hoping to be led somewhere, hoping for a payoff."

Goals transform a random walk into a chase. You need clear goals that fit into a hierarchy, with little goals that build toward more meaningful, higher-level goals. Here you are, tracking the footprints of some animal you haven't seen. That's exhilarating. Then there's the question of feedback. Most [activities] don't very much care what you do. It would be much better if they said: "You've made some interesting choices" or "You're developing a knowledge of Picasso." There's also the ability to challenge. Competition is an easy way to get into flow."

"Actually, [in flow] people are probably more critical. A flow experience has got to be challenging. Anything that is not up to par is going to be irritating or ignored. "

On creativity: "Realize that change and downtime are important. I found that if a painter relates to objects only through vision, his work is much less original than a painter who walks up to the object, smells it, throws it in the air, and manipulates it. The variety of sensory inputs allows you to create a visual image that has all kinds of dimensions bubbling up inside it. We are still a multimedia organism. If we want to push the envelope of complexity further, we have to use all of our devices for accessing information - not all of which are rational."

"It's true that some kids who have grown up on only television fare have ridiculously short attention spans. One problem television poses is that it doesn't provide children with the physical evidence of cause and effect. In olden times, if you didn't get up and out of bed at 5 a.m. to milk the cows, you knew those cows would soon start screaming. What you did had consequences. Now children are passive observers of information without any responsibility.

On the interactivity of the Net recapturing part of that cause and effect:
"...to the extent that you have to play by the rules and each move has a consequence. Still, it is a symbolic causal system, like playing chess, and it may present too narrow a set of consequences. Playing chess is not the whole world, and there are chess champions - like Bobby Fischer - who are absolute babies in terms of operating in society."

On the Internet's ability to be a tool for advancing the evolutionary goal of a more complex consciousness:
"The Net allows the easy exchange of information and the communication of values. But I'm still fighting the notion that the Net is really going to result in a more complex vision of reality."

"When things become too easy, they also end up becoming more sloppy. In the Middle Ages, for example, people were willing to walk from Stockholm to Munich to meet somebody who had something important to say. They listened and thought seriously about what they heard. Now, communication is instantaneous. I'm afraid after a while we may not pay much attention to it. The gates of attention allow very few things to come in."

1 comment:

Hillybug said...

I read this book in college and was much in need of a nice refresher course! Thanx!