Bows and Flows: Composing your Own

November 24, 2008

Flow’s a big word these days. But people are using it differently:

“Most media, like television, used to be a kind of flow. You’d sit down, you’d turn it on and you’d watch. That reason advertising is completely broken is that the flow doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no prime time. There’s no such thing as must-see TV. Everyone’s composing their own flow. And once you start becoming the composer of your own flow, you can’t go back.” Lars Bastholm, Multi-screen Madman

Then there’s Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi who uses the term to describe “What makes a life worth living?” A “flow like” feeling of pleasure and lasting satisfaction found in certain activities.

Finally, my students and I have come to name a new genre of YouTube videos “flow videos” in that they attempt to represent this feeling from the point of view of the individual (and community) who feels it. Not a fan vid because it is user produced, but also user experienced and user generated, and almost always outside-the-corporate, and not the flow of dominant media which washes over you while you numbly waste time and people secretly control your mind and viewing habits, this YouTube genre marks the kinetic joy of people-made fun. While we might all be familiar with the ubiquitous skateboard version of this form of representation, we were intrigued to find YouTube celebrations of less known sites for flow:

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