There is a scene in the movie “The Hustler” where Fast Eddie, played by Paul Newman, says: “It’s a great feeling, boy, it’s a real great feeling when you’re right and you KNOW you’re right. It’s like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue is a part of me… you don’t have to look, you just KNOW. You make shots that nobody’s ever made before.” What the character is describing is being in a state of flow—that enthralled state, when your level of skill matches the level of the challenge. You become so engrossed in what you do that you forget to eat. You escape time. We’ve all been there. It’s what athletes call “being in the zone” and what musicians refer to as “being in the groove.” The concept of flow is the brainchild of psychologist Mihali Csikszentmihalyi. In an interesting talk a few years ago, Csikszentmihalyi talks about the concept of flow and about his more recent book, Good Business: Flow and the Making of Meaning. In it he writes that success is being involved in an endeavor that helps others and, at the same time, makes you feel happy.
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Entries in Psychology (32)
We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed, of being beset by distractions. The problem is – too many things are clamoring for your attention. People are trying to reach you, by phone, email, text, Twitter, IM, or old-fashioned yelling up the stairs. There are the interesting subjects you want to learn more about, on the TV or the internet or the newspaper. Noises in the background occasionally catch your ear, from the TV or radio. Your kids all talk at the same time. Colleagues interrupt. You need to update, check in, post, or ping. Ads jump at you from the most unlikely places. Devices buzz, ring, chirp, and vibrate. It’s enough to drive you crazy. You lose your train of thought, you forget what you’re doing, you have trouble re-engaging in a task, you feel besieged.
The simple (and honest) answer is that... there is no stereotype. We are all innately creative, we all solve problems, produce ideas and think unusual thoughts. However, this is clearly not the whole story. Whilst we can all be creative, some people are more prone to create than others, some who think more with what the venerable creativity researcher Frank Barron would have referred to as "controlled weirdness". So... what do the people who have a greater control of weirdness look like? What are their hallmarks? To answer this I would like to explore a few key themes and finish off with a cap doffed in the direction of domain differences.
When I was working as a theatre producer, I was always fascinated by illusions and magic. No matter how matter times a particular trick or illusion was performed, no matter how many times it was explained either by the magician or as part of a TV special, audiences still could not believe what they were seeing. This has fascinated me because it seems whilst our eyes are seeing and registering what is occuring, our brains are not and what's more they don't want to. Why does "magic as performance" continue to fascinate and fool us. It seems neuroscience is finding some answers. What follow is an article by Natalie Anger of the New York Times and a couple of YouTube videos that explore the neuroscience, demonstrate the cognitive behaviour and the performance. From this you will see just how inattentive we are to change.
I recently stumbled across a very neat little blog commmunity aptly titled The Creating Passionate Users. This community of bloggers claim they are fascinated by brains, minds and what science can tell us about the practice of making users passionate about their lives and tools. The community is co-ordinated by Dan Russell, a full-time research scientist and software developer at Google who has a PhD from the University of Rochester in Artificial Intelligence and Kathy Sierra who has been interested in the brain and artificial intelligence since her days as a game developer (Virgin, Amblin', MGM). Crash course in learning theory looks at blogging as an educational tool rather than a sales or self promotional tool.