Serendipity—Enabling “Happy Accidents” is both Art and Science



February 03, 2017

As the writer Horace Walpole observed of the Three Princes of Serendip, “they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of…” and these discoveries actually saved their lives. Users of your ILS/KM solution may find it to be a lifesaver—if it enables true discovery; that is, if it enables finding, not just searching.

Mr. Walpole coined the term “serendipity” after reading one of the earliest detective novels—it is defined as “the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident.” The biggest problem with searching for information through classic methods—and in classic repositories like a DMS or even a SharePoint site—is that the searcher must know what they are looking for and where they are likely to find it, before they can even begin. Happy accidents don’t even enter into it.

One of Lucidea’s founding principles is “discovery,” which is powerfully enabled through our ILS and KM solutions such as SydneyEnterprise and Presto. We believe that:

Powerful search capabilities are fundamental to optimized content discovery, but there are multiple forms of discovery—it isn’t only about basic search and retrieval. The attributes below must come together to support the best decision-making:

  • Content curation is critical to ensuring the quality and accuracy of information assets, including providing the right information to the right person at the right time
  • Subject matter experts select, organize and maintain databases of the best and most relevant documents, images, videos, sound clips, periodicals and even websites, in ways that accelerate end-user information discovery
  • The best discovery involves end-user input, thereby leveraging the wisdom of the crowd …social input doesn’t necessarily create content, but very definitely influences its quality and use
  • Search functionality must include options for Boolean; parametric; field and faceted querying
  • End users must be able to search, browse, receive alerts, and leverage what they find: the ability to act on content (download, save, print, share, comment, tag) is critical

Special librarians and knowledge managers have a key role to play in creating, aggregating and organizing information assets in ways that guide users to content they don’t even know they need—but quickly realize is critical. Lucidea brings the purpose-built software platform, and you bring the art and science. Together, we can enable serendipity.

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