Serendipity is close but not quite the right word.
And it’s something we are losing when it comes to information. It’s “finding what you are not looking for” and thinking we need a new word for that – that which we are losing our ability to do because of the way we now access and consume information through sites like Google, Bing, and others.
Some of the most amazing information I have in my head is from finding things I wasn’t looking for – and several of my favorite examples of all time are below.
Would my life be worse off because I hadn’t stumbled on those articles? Doubtful. But from a pure quality of life perspective – I can’t tell you how many times these stories have brought a smile to my face, or how many times I have shared them with friends as well as little kids, even co-workers.
These are the articles that I would never in a million years have searched for, and they would probably never show up on some of your favorite destination web sites like Linkedin, Geekwire, or CNN in my case. These are articles that in some cases are more than ten years old, but I still talk about them often.
There’s no big call to action in this post, just really wondering out loud, as it were, how our kids will be able to stumble on these gems in the future. As print news goes away, and we have fewer opportunities to “stumble” on pieces like these, people will miss out. I think in some cases it would change their lives. If I had found that article about bird migrations, or the one on squid camouflage, I might have actually made some different career choices because they are that cool – to me.
So here are some of the best ever. If you have some similar favorites – I’d love to see them.
This is one about the platypus that’s full of incredible information (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/science/08platypus.html). This is another one about camouflage (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/19/science/19camo.html). And this one combines insanely long nonstop bird migrations with internet of things technologies and more (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/science/25migrate.html)
Sometimes it’s not even an article – even a graphic that tells an unbelievable story, like this one. (http://freakonomics.com/2008/08/21/usain-bolt-its-just-not-normal/). Sorry this graphic isn’t bigger – go to the link to see it better.
There you go.