- Apr 2022
Since most of our feeds rely on either machine algorithms or human curation, there is very little control over what we actually want to see.
While algorithmic feeds and "artificial intelligences" might control large swaths of what we see in our passive acquisition modes, we can and certainly should spend more of our time in active search modes which don't employ these tools or methods.
How might we better blend our passive and active modes of search and discovery while still having and maintaining the value of serendipity in our workflows?
Consider the loss of library stacks in our research workflows? We've lost some of the serendipity of seeing the book titles on the shelf that are adjacent to the one we're looking for. What about the books just above and below it? How do we replicate that sort of serendipity into our digital world?
How do we help prevent the shiny object syndrome? How can stay on task rather than move onto the next pretty thing or topic presented to us by an algorithmic feed so that we can accomplish the task we set out to do? Certainly bookmarking a thing or a topic for later follow up can be useful so we don't go too far afield, but what other methods might we use? How can we optimize our random walks through life and a sea of information to tie disparate parts of everything together? Do we need to only rely on doing it as a broader species? Can smaller subgroups accomplish this if carefully planned or is exploring the problem space only possible at mass scale? And even then we may be under shooting the goal by an order of magnitude (or ten)?
- research workflows
- controlled sloppiness
- library stacks
- active acquisition
- problem spaces
- algorithmic feeds
- artificial intelligence
- passive acquisition
- Jan 2022
He also quotes another scientist, who speaks of "controlled sloppiness" as a principle that "permits the occurrence of fruitful accidents", tracing this idea to the fact that scientific work is never without loose ends and that in the absence of a rigid plan it is possible to pay attention to the untidy ends, which ultimately "may turn out to be of considerable importance." Indeed, "compulsive tidiness in experimentation" may be even more crippling than in other areas of life (193).
Merton, Robert King and Barber, Elinor (2004) The Travels And Adventures Of Serendipity : A Study In Sociological Semantics And The Sociology Of Science Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 2004