About serendipity

Trouble reading feeds with thunderbird again, so it was just serendipity(!) that I stumbled across Kathy Sierra’s great posting Add a little more random to your product. It’s dealing with a need that was also mentioned here in a recent posting: Filters drive a bigger need for randomness!

“We’re all on info overload, and filters are the best antidote [...] But all this filtering, tuning, and pruning keeps us stuck! We end up seeing only what we think we want to see ‘what we’re already familiar with’ and slashes our chances for serendipity. And that means slashing our ability to create and innovate, or even to be truly surprised and delighted.”

She gives some good examples how to add more chances for serendipity into products, services, and even lives:

  • Staff picks of the Day/Week/Month
  • Encourage other users to post “off-label” uses of the product
  • Randomly introduce things from completely unrelated domains
  • Use cards from a shuffled “idea” deck
  • Subscribe to magazines from unrelated domains
  • Find SOME means to add randomness (or pseudo-randomness) directly into your product or service

Whenever we’re trying to build adaptive systems, we should consider that

“the bright side of efficiency and focus comes with a dark side of narrow vision.”

And I will also consider this in ALOE - the first prototype should be available in the beginning of March!

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