The Myth Of Serendipity

Some changes happen more slowly than others. And perhaps this is why they are harder to cope with or harder to defend yourself from I suppose. 

Henry Nothaft, CMO of Trapit offers this gentle reframing of changes afoot in the businesses that currently surround a search engine. 

Eric Schmidt’s recent remarks about Google as a “Serendipity Engine” (and Facebook’s quick reply), emphasize an important shift in our daily interaction with the Web and how we use it.  Google-driven search provided us with an expectation of finding what we are looking for with increased precision.  But the rise of Facebook’s social relevance algorithms brought about more personalized content discovery based on the human graph—who we know and what they are reading, watching, or passing along.

In fact, I’d argue that we’re seeing the dominant portion of our interaction with Web content shift from search to discovery.

Jeff Jarvis has perhaps most succinctly defined the concept of serendipity, arguing that serendipity is simply “unexpected relevance.”  His explanation opens an entirely new can of worms, however, in the recognition that relevance is relative.

In seeking to achieve serendipity, the individual reader becomes both the target of content delivery mechanisms and the genesis of what that content may be. This is why serendipity is so closely associated with personalization—it requires a high-resolution understanding of the user.

via The Myth Of Serendipity.

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