I blame ds106. Three years plus in and out of the open digital storytelling course and my free floating mind goes to visual association.

Seeing the Thought Vectors site starting to light up (24 blogs in the mix now, and first wave of students Hello Worlding into the mix) – and I saw a cartoon of Zan and Jayna, combining their powers as Wonder Twins to activate.


In 2008 I saw two of the wonder twins we will read from in the course, do their own activation- Alan Kay was present at the gathering in San Jose to honor the 40th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s Mother of All Demos. I used a base image of the twins but could not see putting either figure’s head on Jayna’s body, so I just redid the general cartoon colors of the images. I had my own photo of Kay greeting Engelbart, but preferred a better shot by Jean-Baptiste Labryne, with some rotation and cartoon filtering in Photoshop.

An opening question, the kind that can not be assessed by automated AI MOOC scale means is “How does it feel when I think?”

On a first level, I *think* that as soon as a I try to focus on that, I am not free thinking anymore, that thing that happens as an observer’s observations get mixed into the observations. So I have to take a guess at what I might see as a third parter observer of my thinking.

In a general sense, my level of absorption in the thinking removes me from awareness of space and time. I stop hearing people talk to me. I may forget to eat. I will likely look up and feel that jaunt when the clock informs me how much time has passed.

Of course, a step back question is what is meant by “thinking”? Is it the free form pondering/mulling meaning of life wondering, or is it the kind of thinking that happens when trying to pursue a solution to a problem or find the answer to a vague question.

The closest sensation is the state I am when deeply engaged in computer programming; and it seems to match the description of the psychology concept of Flow (here the Wikipedia quotes)

Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does…

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described (below) as a deep focus on nothing but the activity ““ not even oneself or one’s emotions.

Flow is a fitting concept I appreciate, having some long ago studies of fluid mechanics– the idea of energy in a channel, but one that is not so channeled that the energy can “jump” out of its confines– e.g. from a furious river bound in a canyon to the more meandering patterns of a braided river. There are many kinds of flow.

image from Glaciers Online http://www.swisseduc.ch/glaciers/

image from Glaciers Online http://www.swisseduc.ch/glaciers/

With some irony, in looking for images, I found one I created in 2012 for a DS106 Daily create where the challenge was to create a family tree” for DS106, which I interpreted more as a flow of people

creative commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identified six factors as a flow experience of flow.

1. intense and focused concentration on the present moment
2. merging of action and awareness
3. a loss of reflective self-consciousness
4. a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
5. a distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
6. experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding, also referred to as autotelic experience.

Those aspects can appear independently of each other, but only in combination do they constitute a so-called flow experience.

(1) (3) and (5) are mostly what I described above. The idea of action and awareness merging is intriguing, and worthy of some more exploration. And (6) is definitely the kind of driver I know, the one that keeps me up til 4am editing a video that is not even for a specific project, or wanting to keep tweaking a piece of code although the site is working well.

The “flow” description works well for me as a description of the feeling. It’s the kind that happens in a blog post like this one, where I might have an idea of where I think it might go at the outset, and yet by the time I get to this last paragraph… well I seem to have gone down a different route altogether.

Flow. Activate. Yeah.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


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