This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 09 table of contents.

The Joy of Processing

Humans seem to enjoy combinatorial play. We take patterns we have learned, and we put them together in new and different ways. Here are some varieties of cognitive play.

Visual patterns People enjoy complex visual designs, images, and patterns in a variety of media, such as paintings, sculpture, slides, movies, videos, sculptures, quilts, arabesques, scrimshaw...

How do people "play" with information processing?

Language patterns People enjoy complex language patterns in a variety of media. They enjoy creating and comprehending books, magazines, newspapers, plays, poems, jokes, oratory, debate, lyrics, chants, prayers, questions, exhortations, raps, stories, novels, reviews, editorials, autobiographies, travelogues, histories...

Motor patterns People enjoy complex motor activity in a variety of settings. They enjoy participating in baseball, basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, skiing, running, jogging, playing Frisbee, dancing, marching, drilling, mime, kluge, lacrosse, cricket, tiddly-winks...

Auditory and musical patterns People enjoy singing, humming, yodeling, playing about 5000 different instruments, listening to radio, records, tapes, and CDs...

Mathematical and numerical patterns People enjoy arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, topography, calculus, set theory... The legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne used to work calculus problems on an airplane to pass the time; he claimed it was a fun type of problem solving.

Whatever the form of information processing, somebody enjoys making designs with it, trying experiments with it, or just playing with it. Competence motivation definitely influences our choice of such "play." We tend to play with skills and abilities that make us feel competent and, through variation and practice, further increase our competency.


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