The endangered joy of serendipity: The modern world makes it harder to discover what you didn’t know you were looking for By William McKeen, St. Petersburg Times, March 26, 2006

I worried about this back when “pushing content” became the next big thing. It never lived up to its hype in those early days. When was that…. 1998ish? And then, along comes blogging, RSS and Web 2.0 and now it all seems like the cure for our information overload nightmares…..

Is it?

Every “cure” comes with a price. And this is it. Diminished opportunities to “discover” something you never knew you did not know. Focused web searching, periodical databases, blogging and other Web 2.0 tools all contribute to this loss. Even search tools such as Yahoo have made their browsing features less prominent. We can probably blame Google’s nice uncluttered interface for that.

As teachers and teacher-librarians we spend a lot of time teaching students how to “tighten up” their searches. How should we teach them to browse and be open to looking for information they don’t even know they want? In a “flat world” we are going to need every ounce of creativity we can muster. And serendipity is the “stuff” of the creative and inventive mind. Let’s not lose that.

P.S. My friend Holly Wolf just started a blog – Electronic Pencil@High School Library. I know it will be a “must read” in the …. get ready …. biblioblogosphere.

Meanwhile – let’s remember what J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost”

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