Accelerating Serendipity


Serendipity, such a beautiful experience. I’d say some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know, follow the practice of accelerating serendipity – through chance, proximity, gut and technology.

So many interconnected interactions happen to me regularly… leaving me with only chills and questions. Why does this happen? How does this happen and what am I doing to amplify serendipity?

A friend of mine, @JessicaRichman also recently pointed out the inherent nature of social clustering and the fact that maybe these connections aren’t random at all, we’re just all hyper connected and where we hang out (no matter where we are in the world) exposes us to people we share more than interests with. We share patterns, common friends, associations and oftentimes beliefs.

And perhaps the social graph can and will tell us who we should meet with astonishing precision.

But, will technology kill serendipity?

If Facebook predict your new friends with 40% accuracy, who knows who your new friends are better… you or Facebook? Creepy, huh? I got that stat from Jure Leskovec at the DLD Conference this year in Munich.

Here is the Facebook friend recommendation engine algorithm:
facebook recommendation engine algorithm

Start the video at about 52 minutes into the session to watch @Jure.

Previous to the conversation I had with Jessica, I met Lenny Rachitsky, founder of LocalMind.com through a random connection I made on @twitter with @oveyyeung from NYC.

After meeting @lennysan, I googled him and found him on TEDx Concordia TV talking about technology and the loss of natural serendipity. His talk inspired me to distill down the ways that I accelerate serendipity…

And my new friend @SteffanAntonas (whom I’ve never met or spoken to) agrees:

“I’m a big believer in the power of  engineering randomness into my life – it’s one of the main reasons I blog and use social media.

And then there is Jonathan Harris who has some interesting views he’s been expressing since 2007 regarding telling the stories of peoples emotions and self expression online

Anyway, if I were to trace serendipity back to actionable endeavors, here are a few examples of things I think help accelerate serendipity:

I enjoy getting lost
I welcome interruption
I tweet
I talk to strangers
I google everyone who sparks my interest
I connect people who need to be connected
I try new services online before they are popular
I share my stuff through Airbnb, GetAround and SnapGoods
I cowork regularly
I lead with feeling
I use planely
I work from coffee shops and cafes
I’m open to online dating
I’m truly interested in other people
I pick up on energy and pay attention to attraction
I am a Couchsurfer
I live in a community cowork/live house
I attend interesting conferences internationally
I often trust my gut over logic
I pay attention to body language
I use social media to discover new ideas & people

So what’s the point of all of this? Serendipity rocks. Let’s not kill serendipity with overbearing technology, but rather enhance our ability to relate in the world through meaningful interactions that rely not only on our own gut, instincts and humanness, but also utilize the power of these recommendation engines to make insightful suggestions.

I think that’s going to have to be a conscious endeavor. If we don’t build technology that relies on our natural tendencies, I fear it will create a more an more elite system of interaction that limits the potential for people to bridge gaps and meet in natural settings without a full set of details on who they are talking to and relating with, which could be divisive.

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2 Responses to Accelerating Serendipity

  1. Keane says:

    This is a good post. I’m hopeful that humanity will always retain its humanity (it might take a bit of collapse to help us back on the right track). That’s what the end of the Mayan calendar is all about right? Right? :P

    • Chelsea says:

      Thanks Keane!

      The way technology is moving makes me want to ask big philosophical and moral questions.

      1.) Where can we go? What’s possible?
      2.) What should we do?

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