Kicks Condor

Reply: Lateral Connections

vega

Serendipity in newspapers and record stores is dependent on unlike things being adjacent to each other. […] It’s the caprice, whimsy, lateral thinking, and uniqueness of the curator that decides what link stands next to what else—something that machine algorithms just can’t do. These days we rely too much on a machine serving us hyperlinks; a return to human-curated hyperlinks is perhaps a way of raising serendipity.

‘…unlike things being adjacent to each other.’

Great comments. Even without algorithms, this can be trouble—on subreddits, posts can be flagged ‘offtopic’—so overboard moderation is a problem. (Of course, Reddit is where one goes to fully ‘engage’. No /s—it’s fine to do that. Problem is: people may not know where to go to get outside of ‘engage’ mode.)

One thought I’ll add re: getting outside of my own interests—I think if we had better tools for keeping tabs on our interests, we could more easily move outside them. (Like: if my ‘reader’/‘news feed’ makes it difficult to track 100 people, then I can’t very well track 1,000 people.)

And directories are sweet here—they are little libraries. Sure, they can cover your interests. But they can be used to map the strange elven lands that you happen to sally in.

  1. @kicks re tools: I think that "unlike things adjacent to each other" helps a lot; the examples in @dancohen's article -- record store, newspaper -- depend on spatial organization to promote serendipity even when one begins at a point of their own interest. Browsing my Pinboard.in account revives and reminds me of old interests -- the links may be organized by date in a flat-file, but diverse things are adjacent to each other. I've also been experimenting with Zettelkasten for various info-management and creative purposes (haven't progressed far though).

    I'm generally in agreement with this paper that spatial organization is integral to human interaction with things outside the self; but digital tools and AI aren't that good at doing it yet. Human-curated hyperlinks and organizational methods are a step towards it, but perhaps this is an area for future IT development.

  2. @vega @kicks Vega I'm thinking about this "unlike things adjacent to each other" in the context of the Web 1.0 "free" banner exchanges. But now that I've blurted that out, I see too many downsides to it: keeping it from becoming commercial, cluttering up blogs with banner ads for poor click through ratios so never mind, too much work for to little gain. SImple hyperlink is easier and less intrusive.

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