Serendipity isn’t a random number generator

I don’t very often agree with Jeff Jarvis even though I read his blog faithfully but in this case I have to agree with him totally when he says that serendipity is not randomness. It is unexpected relevance.

This of course has come about because of the rash of nonsense posts going on about how cool it is to hand over what we read to chance at which point everyone points to the recent experiment at the Guardian that was inspired by Clay Shirky.

In the experiment someone at the newspaper hacked together what they termed a serendipity generator which did nothing more than present you with some random story from the news archives when you clicked a link.


Hang on a sec … how is a random number generator anything close to a serendipity generator?


Seriously, that is all that this Guardian hack is. Either using post IDs; or even getting real fancy and using tags, which you pump through some mathematical algorithm to return a single post to display is not serendipity.

Serendipity by random number generator ins nothing of the sort.

Anyone who thinks so is doing better drugs than I am.