The Internet’s secret sauce: surfacing coincidence

“It looks like serendipity, and in a way it is, but it’s manufactured serendipity.” #

All these services allow me to manage fragments of my life without requiring burdensome tasks. They all let me take my data wherever I want. They all enhance my data by connecting it to more data. They all make my data relevant in the context of a larger community. #

“Coincidence is the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection.” #

This is, of course, similar and related to the definition of serendipity: #

“Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.” #

You might say that this is a criteria against which any new online service should be measured. Though it’s probably so core to getting things right that every other consideration in building a new online service needs to support it. #

6 thoughts on “The Internet’s secret sauce: surfacing coincidence

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  2. Colin

    Great post, Matt! I love the idea of surfacing coincidence. It’s interesting that the services you highlight (Dopplr, Wesabe, Twitter, Flickr, and del.icio.us) seem to have added this layer of meaning on top of fairly specialized data, at least initially (finance, photos, short text, etc). The larger, catch-all social networks don’t seem to have reached this level as clearly – is that a function of the more complex/vague data, the ways that people use those networks, or something else? Can serendipity be achieved by a ‘one-stop’ or aggregating network? One would think that the extra data can only help, but perhaps this isn’t the case.

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