Of the many things we love about the internet, is it possible that we love its endless potential for serendipity the most of all?
Yes, as a writer I love its promise of nearly instant research gratification. But it's the thrill of discovery that really makes a search engine such an exciting thing.
Consider: My short trip to Google News this morning in search of references to a day-old scientific announcement about the mutation rates of barn swallows from Chernobyl boiled down to a simple search for "swallow Chernobyl," (which on a wider web search is sure to pull up all sorts of Russian porno, I'm sure). It retreived no hits on my topic, but it did pull down this gem from the UK's The Guardian: a fanged-prose deconstruction of Annie Liebovitz's tri-fold Vanity Fair Hollywood issue cover.
To quote a bit, just for the joy of it:
"I feel soiled gazing at this photograph, and it's not just jealousy. It reminded me of Caravaggio's famous chicken in the National Gallery; it's just as pornographic. Leibovitz's cover is a simply a casting couch, a homage to the blowjob values of 1950s Hollywood. To watch 10 beautiful women (of which at least four are talented) bicker for the lens's attention like tarts in an upper class brothel is dispiriting. I'm off to buy the Socialist Worker. They don't do drama and the tits are smaller."
I didn't go looking for this, but reading it was pure diversion.
What is the value of serendipity? Do you want more or less of it in your life?