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Serendipity in Digital Environments: Search versus Exploration

January 23, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Location:2017 Dunton Tower

A Public Lecture by Professor Anabel Quan-Haase
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario

Much of the research on how we encounter information tends to focus on linear models of intentional information search. Recently a number of studies and frameworks have suggested that not all information individuals encounter is through goal-oriented search, but rather that individuals often find information and connect with people accidentally, without purposefully looking. A wide range of terms and models have been proposed to describe the phenomenon. The present presentation has three goals. First, it provides an overview of the current debate around the phenomenon of serendipity, presenting and contrasting various models of how serendipity occurs. Second, it discusses how technology could affect serendipity and opportunities for designing digital tools that support innovation, creativity, and resource discovery. The presentation examines the debate around whether commercial search engines, such as Google, are leading toward the loss of serendipity. Finally, it presents current research findings on how serendipity impacts the work of humanities scholars.

Event poster