The Death of Serendipity?

I found this quote while visiting a site that has been in my reader for a couple of years. Honestly, it has not had a continuous presence; I enjoy it for a while, remove its feed, and then some other great site mentions it and I am drawn, like the unsuspecting fly, into the nearly invisible spider’s web of great information.

For some reason, while travelling, I’ve really noticed how I’d fallen into the bad habit of relying on Twitter and aggregaters like TechMeme to channel content for reading. While everyone is warm and fuzzy about WOC, recommendation systems,etc., frankly they scare the innovation right out of me. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, what gets things to the top of the pile is only partly what I vaguely call inherent value. A good part of what is going on is the force of social value, which, IMHO, can be the death of serendipity. (emph. mine)

What has drawn me to the great inter-tube, and has kept my interest for the past 5 years, is that each visit brings the likelihood of learning something new, or being exposed to a different perspective which might open me to new possibilities, or just giving me something else to think and chew on. Rarely have I been disappointed.

Recently, my friend Xark mentioned that he was, if I may paraphrase, reconsidering his usage of his reader, which I took to mean that he was reducing his reading of blogs in response to the powerful force of social media, i.e., Twitter, Facebook, et al. The further implication being, to my ears at least, that blogs might not be as good as the newbies in terms of delivering timely, relevant information. I hope he will straighten me out if I have misunderstood his meaning.

But I get Matthew Hurst’s point in the quote above. To wit, humans self select social relationships. These relationships extend to our business contacts. As we dig ourselves deeper into that web of contact, are we in fact, unintentionally, removing the possibility of serendipity?

To quote the Wikipedia link above:

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely unrelated.

That is the value that the inter-tube brings to my experience. The richness of new information, new ideas, and new friendships (near and far) is the most important characteristic of the form.

It’s not worth giving up. Keep the reader, folks!




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