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Very good post. I'm interested in what you say about interesting being active and mesmerizing being passive, however. Isn't mesmerizing one level above interesting? And if so, isn't that more active, hardly passive? Unless you mean boredom is mesmerizing by virtue of requiring more attention to interpret it as boring.

Like what you say about generativity being a measure of interestingness. That's a rather original thought in these days of - ahem - social media. I'm not quite sure I agree with it universally - in some cases, like Volkswagen's latest interactive ad: http://tinyurl.com/l3vabd, you can generate stuff but it's rather boring. I wouldn't take that to mean VW is an interesting brand. Overall though, brands that let me generate info do make me think they are interesting.

BTW I like your posts, you should post more often!

Jeffre Jackson

I think of being mesmerized as a zombie-like state in which the conscious mind slips into neutral, like being hypnotized. Perhaps stronger than interestingness in the degree of immediate enthrallment, but without engagement. There is no questioning or mental-model creation and manipulation. Just a mouth-hanging-open stillness. But really that's just my definition of the word.

The kind of generativity that reflects interestingness arises relatively spontaneously in people's minds and is manifested in the ease and eagerness, the freedom, with which they imagine variations and transformations of something. Versus the VW/Twitter ad which is not about people freely improvising but mechanically taking data and "generating" one of a limited number of results. I'd say that brands that not only let you generate info, but that you just want to generate info about, are most interesting. (Maybe a better word than "information" here is "theories".)

And thank you very much.

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