Sunday, 29 January 2012

Serendipity: time, space and connections

Someone recently brought to my attention. Quite apart from it being entertaining, it resonates well with our work on understanding serendipity ( Historically, work on serendipity has emphasised the encountering of information (often while looking for other information) and the importance of the "prepared mind" in recognising the value of the encountered information. This video (by Steven Johnson) emphasises the importance of "slow hunches" and connections. It highlights the dilemma that, with so many sources of information available to people, it can be difficult not to feel overwhelmed by information, and by demands to deliver results quickly -- and yet there are many more opportunities for identifying and exploiting new connections in our highly connected world. Our work on serendipity has highlighted the need to go beyond recognising the value of the connection to having the time and opportunity to exploit it. This requires "mental space" for reflecting on the nature and value of the connection, as well as the sense of freedom to follow up on it. Johnson claims that "chance favours the connected mind", but it also favours the mind that experiences the freedom to build on opportunities, that is not overwhelmed by demands.

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