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Aesthetic Aha

Published 7/21/2017

In today's episode, we talk about why kids love to watch the same movies over and over, and how you can learn from this behavior to improve your career (seriously!).

Today's episode is brought to you by Linode. Linode Provides superfast SSD based Linux servers in the cloud starting at $5 a month. Linode is offering Developer Tea listeners $20 worth of credit if you use the code DEVELOPERTEA2017 at checkout. Head over to spec.fm/linode to learn more about what Linode has to offer to Developer Tea listeners !

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Why do children love to watch the same movies over and over and over? And what does that have to do with our survival? That's what we're talking about on today's episode of Developer Tea, and then we're going to connect it to how you can be a better developer. That's the goal of the show. I want to help you become a better developer. I want to help you to level up in your career to truly take these various ideas from all different subjects. Today's episode is specifically about this idea, the psychological motivator, the things that we find fun, how we connect those things to what we do, and what a child finds fun in watching a movie over and over. What exactly is that element? Why does a child watch a movie over and over? Well, as it turns out, the fundamental thing that a child is enjoying doesn't really change. We don't reach an age where we grow out of this. Instead, we graduate. We become a little bit more abstracted, but we still have the same underlying concept of why it is fun to watch the same movie over and over. Well, it's no longer fun for adults, and we're going to talk about why that is. But first, I want to talk about why it's fun for children to watch the same movie over and over. And really, we're getting down to the meat of today's episode, which is this concept called the aesthetic aha. And the aesthetic aha moment is the idea that you are following along with something. And you're tracking along with, for example, a storyline, and you start to recognize patterns or elements that you are already familiar with. And then, therefore, when something happens that you are already familiar with, again, you have this moment of clicking, this moment of realization that you actually kind of knew that that was going to happen. And so, when you're watching a movie that they've already seen before, they get this sense that it's familiar to them. And they're watching it for the third or the fourth time, and they can start to recognize that they've seen this before. And so, when they see something they recognize in that movie for the third or fourth or hundredth time, they click into that information. And they're able to see that they were actually knowing what was going on all along. Their mind was able to comprehend what was going on much easier as a result. Why is this so compelling? What is so interesting about this? We're going to talk about that right after we talk about today's sponsor, Linode. Today's episode is sponsored by Linode. Linode has eight data centers. They're going to start to just $5 a month, and you can get a server running in under a minute. And you guys know all of this stuff. Linode is competing in the space, but one thing that you may not know about Linode is that per dollar, they provide the best deal for RAM. RAM on your server, they provide the best deal. So, their $5 plan is a gigabyte of RAM. They have a $10 plan that's two gigabytes of RAM, and then they have really high memory plans starting at 16 gigabytes for $60 a month. And it goes on up from there. And of course, with any Linode plan, you're getting Linux. It's a very simple idea. It's a very simple model. You're getting Linux, which is an extremely powerful system. And if you're a developer, you probably already know that. You probably already know that Linux provides you with a lot of flexibility. Go and check out what Linode has to offer, because on top of the fact that they're providing the best RAM per dollar deal right now on average, Linode is also providing Developer Tealisteners with $20 worth of credit. Just $20 for you to use on Linode services. If you're going to do that $5 a month plan for a gigabyte of RAM, then that'll last you for four months. So go and check it out. Spec.fm slash Linode. Use the code Developer Tea2017 at checkout for the $20 worth of credit. Thanks again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So why is it so interesting that children love to be able to know what is going to happen in a movie? Well, as it turns out, we as humans, we like to be able to predict things. One of the things that is fun to us is being able to predict what is going to happen. Now, we don't really need to get into the philosophy of what fun really is or the purpose of fun necessarily. This isn't a playful kind of fun as much as it is kind of an intellectually pleasing kind of fun. And the idea here is that we like to be able to predict things we like to be able to know what is getting ready to happen next most likely. I remember as a child, my dad and I we would have watched Star Trek together. And dad has seen every episode of Star Trek and he knows the characters very well. And so as we were watching these episodes, of course, dad hasn't memorized every single line. But because he knows the characters very well, he would be able to predict what the next line they were going to say was. He knew how they would act in a particular circumstance. And this was enjoyable to him. In fact, I would say probably if he couldn't predict it, he wouldn't have liked the show nearly as much. And doing that prediction, actually saying the line before the character would say it, that was intellectually pleasing to him. He understood the characters. He was a Star Trek fan and he could really prove it through this prediction process. For children watching a movie, they don't really have the reasoning capabilities yet. Generally speaking, to develop that level of awareness about, for example, a character that they've seen over and over to be able to draw conclusions about what they might say in a particular situation. Instead, they're drawing on their limited memory experience with that movie. They're starting to get a level of confidence that they know what's going to happen because they have quite literally seen it before. Of course, for an adult seeing the same movie over and over and being able to predict what's going to happen next isn't really much of an intellectual exercise. It doesn't really give us that sense of intellectual superiority that we get if we can predict something that we haven't seen yet. So the moment of aesthetic ah-ha for an adult might come, for example, when we see a movie that carries the same basic storyline as another movie, and certain plot devices and literary devices, maybe that we've seen previously, they're employed in another movie. And we can almost know that in the end, the hero is going to win for most blockbuster movies, for example. We know that the hero will win, so the moment that the hero wins, we tend to feel a sense of satisfaction. On top of being happy that the hero won, we were also able to predict that eventually the hero is going to find a way out of this difficult circumstance that they're in. Another good example of this, and we're using movies again over and over because this is kind of the most obvious situation where we can see the aesthetic ah-ha being successful. With a large number of people, but another good example is a lot of superhero stories involve some kind of origin story, right? Hopefully you've heard this term. And the origin story is some kind of situation when the superhero was younger that created their power, right? Something that happened to him that created their power, whether it's Spider-Man's bite by the venomous spider or if it's Superman's actual childhood story, of being from a different planet, the general formula tends to be quite similar, right? There's something that has made them the way that they are. So why do we care about being able to predict? Why does this create a sense of intellectual superiority? Why does it matter that we need to be able to predict? In fact, if you spend any time working on systems of artificial intelligence, whether that's machine learning or some other kind of learning, then you know that a lot of those, a lot of those tasks require some level of prediction. And it makes sense, right? If we as humans didn't try to predict, for example, the dangers that may be threat to us, then we wouldn't be able to prepare for those dangers. If we couldn't look forward into the future at all, if we couldn't predict that, oh, probably be hungry in the next two or three hours, then we may not plan to go and actually get food, right? And this would have been a major problem in the early days of humanity. And our prediction has become a lot more abstracted. And if I can't predict how someone will respond in a social situation, then I may not be able to create good relationships. They're very abstracted levels of prediction that are required to be able to survive as a modern human as well. So it's not just being able to predict if I'm going to be mauled by a tiger or not, but it's also being able to predict the interactions that we have with other people, being able to predict our future behavior, 10, 20, and even 30 years out into the future. And these are all essential to survival as a modern human. So being able to predict is still a very important thing, but how can we take this concept that that really is kind of fundamental core to our survival? How can we take this and employ it in our work as developers? Well, one simple way would be to create interfaces and create common patterns of interaction, whether it's an interface or not. Create this pattern in a way that the people who are using them have some level of familiarity. If they know that, for example, you put a form on your website and they know that once they click the Submit button, that is going to submit this form. This is a very common pattern. It's something that they can expect. And once they see that success message, the thing that they're used to seeing over and over, they have participated in a very small, but still effective aesthetic aha. But I do have a word of caution as it relates to creating familiar interactions, creating familiar interfaces. And that is to not create a situation where your users are seeing the same movie for the hundredth time. Of course, this is assuming that your primary target audience is a little bit older, that they have a little bit more sophisticated understanding, that they can draw those more abstract conclusions and create abstract predictions into the future. And as long as that's the case, then seeing an interface that is exactly like a hundred other interfaces that a person has seen, that's going to bore them. They are not going to have any kind of aha moment because they knew what was coming next. They knew what was coming next because it's exactly the same. It's like watching that movie for the hundredth time. Instead, what your job is, if you are in charge of the user's experience, which as a developer, you should be taking responsibility for this. If you are in charge of that, then it's your job to recognize what level of familiarity is reasonable, what level of familiarity you want to employ, while also creating new and exciting elements for that familiarity to live to coexist with. This is the idea. We don't want to create the same movie. We want to take some elements from previous movies that have been successful. And find new ways of using those elements. We want to find new ways of wrapping those things in new and exciting stories. I hope this has been an inspiring and exciting episode, but I also hope that it's challenging. I want for you as a developer to begin to think about ways that you can employ elements of psychology, elements of human nature in the work that you do, so that you can make more compelling experiences for people, more compelling products for people to use. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode. Use developer T-Listening can get a $20 bill, basically for free, by going to spec.fm slash Linode. That's $20 worth of credit on Linode to use on any of their services. You can use the code developer T-2017 and check out to get that $20. Thank you again for listening. If you're enjoying this episode of Developer Tea, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use so that you don't miss out on future episodes. And until next time, enjoy your tea.