Last night, I ran into a friend who is a musician. After months of being unable to attend official events sent via Facebook invites, I heard his voice coming from a bar while walking to meet some friends. I immediately turned and walked inside.
After we spoke and I sat down, his band played a song from an album of his I enjoy (purchased online, of course). You can’t beat an experience like that. Come to find out this morning, he had posted it as his Facebook status but feeds are dominated with “influential users,” which he is not. The odds of me seeing anything from his feed are slim.
I love social tools. Because of them, I am employed. Because of them, I have met amazing people. Because of them, I always have a fun event or experience to look forward to. Things never get stale. And yet… Life in the ‘digerati’ has nearly destroyed my chance for serendipity.
You can say, “Shauna, just opt out!” but I will laugh. Here, serendipity is a cost of convenience. You can say, “Well, that’s what you get for being so connected!” I will laugh again. Making the choice to stay connected does not prevent me from missing these moments.
I’ve given up sugar but craving dessert doesn’t make me a fool. It just makes me human.
Below is an idea I would love to see built into (or added onto…) social networks to increase the odds of serendipity. PLEASE STEAL IT!
Social Remix or Social Serendipity
Idea: A web application that remixes your social network site usage to uncover hidden content from friends, other users, and so on.
Social Networks are great because they connect you (or reconnect you) to valuable personal connections. They also create a highly custom, highly semantic, insular user experience. After enough interactions within the site, these sites learn your preferences and cater to them. Ultimately, “discovery” becomes redundancy. This application or site would be like dropping a grenade into your preferences to see what new things come from it.
(If anyone knows of someone working on this, please let me know. I will gladly be in the test user group!)