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July 29, 2002

In Search of Aha!

In a week and a half, I'm keynoting a conference in Colorado with a new presentation called The Joy of Sense-Making. I've been researching the relationship between uncertainty and motivation and especially the Aha! phenomenon, I've found some interesting links on the topic already:

Programmers sharing notes on the moment in which object-oriented programming became clear to them.

'Aha' Experiences in Object-Oriented Education:: Searching for a Theoretical Foundation - Joan Mann and Robert Schneider

Motivation: Arousal and Achievement in Problem Solving which says...

There are four kinds of 'payoff' pleasures:

  • AHA! This is when we have an insight, when we see what the answer is; when you have an idea; when the penny drops. It is the pleasure of successful intellectual endeavour.

  • HA! This is when a goal is reached; when you have finished; when you win; when you bring things to a conclusion.

  • HAHA! This is when you see the joke. It's like AHA above, but is concerned specifically with seeing the joke. Jokes do not offer the resolution of problems - they illuminate them. They reveal the unreasonableness of our expectations that we can and will solve our problems - we discover we are the joke.

  • AH! This is when you see the truth; it is an aesthetic experience - not a rational one. This may be a sudden rush of feeling that you know and understand - upon seeing a painting, a piece of music or a natural scene like the Grand Canyon. Or may take longer, requiring intellectual effort over a period of time.

I like that last AHA, HA, HAHA, AH thang.

So, to gather some more insights into this, I put up a survey about AHAness and sent out the URL to the WebQuest list. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes in.