Speeding Up Serendipity

When the little, happy, happen-chances come our way, we usually consider it a good thing. So much of everything can seem random, after-all. The world is full of opportunities – opening doors, closing doors, missed doors, halfway doors, and if there is only one thing we know, it’s that we’ll never know what is around the corner. Given this, serendipity is cool. But first – – a couple of random side-notes.

First: the nursery school I went to in a tiny town in MA is called Serendipity. While I think this is, just, well, great, I wonder who dreamt it up, deeming it a suitable name for a pack of three year old kids to go around trying to pronounce. My sister attended Red Balloon. Seems more fitting.

Second: the etymology of serendipity can be tracked back to its creation by Horace Walpole (1717-92). In a letter to a friend he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip,” whose heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of. Horace, you rule.

What I’ve come to discover through technology (big surprise), and specifically, our day-in-age, social-media-everything-and-everywhere-sharing-technology, is that (among many other things) Web 2.0 is pretty keen at speeding up the little happen-chances. In any given day, random things happen. A leads to B which leads to D which leads to C. And through social media, the pool of random activity is increased.

So is serendipity, sped up through technology, any better than our previous, lesser, random occurrences? Wouldn’t life just take a different course if we never logged on to the internet, once in our entire lives? Do we actually need more serendipity?


But, I’ve personally always held the belief that life is for living. For experimenting, iterating, thinking, meeting, trying, tasting, and generally prefer to take life by the, um, horns, then have it take me by its. Assuming life does have ahem, horns.

When you log into a social site, (that is anything considered 2.0 these days), people share. If in a typical day, I seek out topics around my given set of interests, I may fall upon 50 random things (could be articles, people, videos, pieces of information, new thought-driving concepts, etc). Now, if I engage with 50 people, who are also seeking topics in areas of similar interest to me (perhaps reason why I am engaging with them in the first place), and they share this data, I now have a much larger galaxy of information that is presented to me. So while at first, serendipity may have occurred within the first 50 data points my immediate world connected me to, I now have 50XXX depending on how many people I engage with, and continue the sharing with. The saying “10 heads are better than 1” stands today because we know it
to be true. So wouldn’t 10 cool, relevant links be better than 1? Ah, the song and dance of our time…

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Yep – right on, Lauren.

I like to say that all of this stuff “accelerates the velocity of unanticipated connections.”