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September 07, 2007


Morgan Gerard


I posted a rather lengthy reply on the theme of games & play last week but it disappeared into an online black hole (can Terry find it?). To condense 50 sentences into one on a day I can't write, I think play is already (and will become more obvious to people in the minutes to come) the preemiment motif of the moment. Your posting a while back on FLOW was great, a field I've investigated myself in ethnography. If you're interested in direct apps to your business, check "Play, Flow and the Online Search Experience" by Marla Mathwick and Edward Rigdon in the Journal of Consumer Research Vol. 31, Sept. 04. It's a decent look at how it ties into your business, based on the pioneer theorist of the field Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi.


I've asked Terry to check some black holes for me.

Thanks a lot for the comment Morgan, I'm going to dig out the article, sounds fascinating.
I'd love to know a bit about the ethnography work you did in this field.

Incidentally, based on the cursory knowledge I have of "flow" theory, I think that DJ'ing is a great example of it. So many things about DJ'ing apply: the sense of control, it's neither too difficult or too easy, the constant feedback, and ultimately the merging of awareness and action. Does this make sense to you, or am I a hopelessly deluded DJ?!


Morgan, that article requires a subscription :(
Hook a brother up!


Morgan Gerard

Dino, my Greek brother

Alas I can only hook you up with that old-school thingy called a Xerox. Lemme know.

As for flow, yes - the two greatest examples I can think of and, in my ethnography, have observed and fallen into are playing records and dancing to records.

Certainly not all flow experience are this, but TRANCE is a great entry-point for understanding the experience.


Xerox! That would be quaint :)
I'll e-mail you my fax number tomorrow from work.

It totally makes sense that trance (and i'm assuming you're not referring to the dreadful genre itself) is a natural example. I'm really curious about flow and DJ'ing, it's a post that I've been meaning to write for years, but always suspected I'd make a mess of it.

But dancing too, that counts? That's pretty amazing to me. Again, it makes sense if you think about trance states (I remember we spoke years ago about songs with titles like "The Music's Got Me". Remember?!). It's pretty cool that the DJ, in a flow state, connects and helps to facilitate that state in a crowd. What other flow states are concurrent like that, it that's a fair way to think about it? Witchdoctors or something?!

Morgan Gerard

Actually, I might give more flow-weight to dance than to DJing, only because there is (at least among most of the ethnographic subjects I interviewed and observed) a tiny, little bit more planning, 'conscious consciousness' and (maybe) more critical awareness of the social-experiential process that drives playing records than does DJing.

As a digital media dude, flow should be of prime interest for you and everyone in your industry. When a Web 3.0 arrives, I would imagine that flow experience would be (or at least I hope it would, as I'm getting pretty sick of typing and mousing) the central driver of user experience. An analogy than doesn't quite do justice to the complexity of flow: imagine working the web is like watching your favourite movie in terms of timelessness, getting caught up in emotional content, feeling the feelings of the characters, coming away a little transformed but - and here's the clincher for tech evolution online - being able to direct those experiences/co-construct the narratives as they're happening (much like you might choose what record to play or what track to lose it to) rather than in some reflective post-experience realm. Hot, baby! Hot!

Morgan Gerard

Sorry. Didn't answer all of your questions. Other states like that? #1 is play. We all know flow, whether in G.I. Joe or Halo. Others include theatre, dancing, cooking, sex for some. There's quite an interesting list of What Is, What Isn't So Much in the original lit that I will try to dig up. But, in general, flow states are those that are particularly creative and, to put it quite simply, playful.

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When a Web 3.0 arrives, I would imagine that flow experience would be (or at least I hope it would, as I'm getting pretty sick of typing and mousing) the central driver of user experience.

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