Search, Serendipity and Fleetwood Mac

There are those who lament that in the digital age we've lost the ability to browse, as we do in a bookstore or at a newsstand, who say we lose the serendipity of finding the un-searched for, the unrelated, the completely quirky, the thing we might not have considered while strolling past a shelf or gazing over a shoulder.

I have an answer for those doubters: Fleetwood Mac. I was searching the online offerings of my local library today to see what they might have from the old rock band, an interest rekindled via my wife when we and our children watched a recent episode of the "Glee" TV show that featured a song by the group.

There weren't any Fleetwood Mac online-only offerings, but there were eBooks about "Mac" computers, how to code them, hack them, use Applescript and so on. It happens that tinkering with computers is a hobby of mine, and I grabbed a couple of the books, which will be fun and help me do a little coding and hacking, for work and pleasure.

My friend and sometimes colleague Rafat Ali has pointed out how links, tags and feeds can lead to "the serendipity of tripping over fascinating articles about things I would never" have explored. (I'd give the link, but the PaidContent site appears to have moved or deleted the post.)

I couldn't agree more. It's not that we no longer have serendipitous discovery. It's that the nature of it has morphed a bit. Besides, you can still go to a bookstore or magazine stand if you like. It's not either-or. It's additive.

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