Archive | October 2012

serendipitous flow theory

To gain knowledge on how to solve the wicked problem of how companies can have successful advertising without killing their website, I read a few articles Charles Dietz examines the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and its implications and Unintended Consequences of Targeting:Less Information,Less Serendipity – part 1 & 2 The first article describes flow theory. The second describes the lack of serendipitous when using targeted advertisement. I believe both of these give insight towards solving our wicked problem.

The article Charles Dietz examines the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and its implications talks about Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi’s Flow theory. Flow Theory is basically the phenomenon in which a person becomes so involved in an activity that nothing else matters. During this event, time typically becomes distorted in a sense that hours feel like minutes or minutes like seconds. The key to an individual experiencing flow depends on many variables and in turn the variables require different levels for every individual. The Individual must be entirely focused and concentrated on the activity involved.Curiosity aids in keeping this focus. The individual must also recognize a positive expectancy in the task and know that it is doable without feeling too anxious or too bored. The individual must also have a clear idea  or intuition of what needs to be done next.This clarity is  left unbroken by good immediate feedback so the individual knows they are on the right track. When all of these factors are combined they tend to give the individual a sense of ecstasy and peacefulness. Time is distorted when engaging in the activity and the activity becomes intrinsic and is a self rewarding experience.

The next article Unintended Consequences of Targeting:Less Information,Less Serendipity – part 1 & 2, touches on the effects of targeted advertising. Over the years companies have made targeted advertising  a very popular way to reach out to potential customers. Individuals subject to targeted advertising will see adds based on things such as browsing history, IP addresses, or “likes”. Some people may find this useful, however it does take away from the potential novelty that the web, or anything else that uses targeted advertising, has to offer. If everything is just showed to you based off the things you’ve already searched and know about, you’re not really discovering anything new from these adds. It takes away the serendipity, or pleasant  surprises, that one would normally come across with just random advertisements. For example, you may be going to buy you’re favorite magazine and stumble across another magazine at the store on a completely different topic that happens to catch your eye. With targeted advertisement only you most likely will miss out on this scenario. The article then even goes into how it can actually be depressing and or annoying for the individuals receiving the ads. One lady thought about purchasing a pair of shoes on-line but in the end decided not to buy them. The shoes then kept appearing in ads. Almost haunting her, and reminding her she couldn’t buy them.

I feel like I have learned some invaluable information about these subjects and am excited to incorporate them into a solution for our wicked problem. A user needs to enjoy the website they’re on and not be distracted by annoying full front in center distracting ads. They should be nice and neat on the sides and be random and spontaneous just like the people being exposed to them.


In the article “A Rape in Cyberspace” by Julian Dibbell, Mr.Bungle is a character inside of a text based virtual reality community. One evening a few of the other players become victims of the words of this character. Mr.Bungle uses one of the aspects of the game to manipulate the other players text based characters, making them do things the original user did not intend for there characters to do such as engaging in sexual conduct with each other. The community of the game gets upset with this and wants his account to be deleted. They then use forums and chats to try to decide what to do about the situation. A few of the users suggest that his account be deleted. Several other users say that he didn’t really break any rules since there are no rules specified so deleting the account would be harsh. Eventually one moderator decides to delete the Mr.Bungle account. A few days later Mr.Bungle returns as Dr.Jest after easily creating a new account. Which after several months repeats his acts of rude conduct. The account is then immediately deleted without debate this time. Later it is believed that the character never actually belonged to one person but perhaps and entire college dorm floor that would get together and stir up trouble in the VR community.

Some of the implications are most likely setting codes of conduct as guidelines in your on-line community to prevent such situations from happening with the knowledge that banning is a punishment. It probably also led to the tracing and blocking of IPs instead of just deleting accounts. Now, most communities have a ranking system or government where there is the owner of the community or site and administrators that help enforce codes of conduct and take care of such issues. Thus one must take caution and acknowledge the possible punishments for being a troll as well as consider that some people take things seriously in these communities and may take your jokes to serious offense.



-Troll carefully.