— 13 October 2005 —

UI10 – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*, author of Finding Flow is speaking now. Jared said his book is essential in the world of design and usability. Okay.

Book Description

Part psychological study, part self-help book, Finding Flow is a prescriptive guide that helps us reclaim ownership of our lives. Based on a far-reaching study of thousands of individuals, Finding Flow contends that we often walk through our days unaware and out of touch with our emotional lives. Our inattention makes us constantly bounce between two extremes: during much of the day we live filled with the anxiety and pressures of our work and obligations, while during our leisure moments, we tend to live in passive boredom. The key, according to Csikszentmihalyi, is to challenge ourselves with tasks requiring a high degree of skill and commitment. Instead of watching television, play the piano. Transform a routine task by taking a different approach. In short, learn the joy of complete engagement. Thought they appear simple, the lessons in Finding Flow are life-altering.

Talking about limits of human attentional capacity. How much can we experience? “About 114 bits of info persocond. 500k bits per day. 168bil in an average lifetime.”

Where does the time go (on average)? “150k per day on Work or Study. 200k per day on maintenance activities (dressing, cleaning, etc.). 150k is free time.” Baboons in the wild have a similar breakdown for a day. :) How the individual chooses to allocate their time, their attention to their day constructs a life.

I am having some attentional spotlighting issues due to ambient noise, his accent, and the fact that I feel like I am in a Masters class on how humans organise their activities based on what they attend to.

How does it feel to be in a flow? “Completely involved in what we are doing; focused, concentrated. A sense of ecstasy; of being outside everyday reality. Great inner clarity; knowing what needs to be done and how well it is being done. Knowing that the activity is doable; that your skills are adequate to the task. A sense of serenity; no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego. Timelessness thoroughly focused on the present, hours seems to pass by as minutes.”

He said that based on his studies, boys who spend time “out of flow” in Apathy tend to have a lot of problems, but not girls. For girls the problems arise when they have a lot of anxiety. He is showing a lot of charts right now which are difficult to capture. Another reason I don’t like the fact that we didn’t get a CD or DVD of the proceedings.

Sweet, Jared just said the slides will be available soon. So I will link them up when I get the link from him.

[Update] Slides are now available. (PDF, 925k)

*Pronounced: Chik-sent-meehigh, meaning “of saint michael of Csik” which is an area/town in or near Transylvania. Csik is on the right side of this map toward the top. It is spelled Czick, but it looks like an old map. I knew you wanted to know.

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