Programming for Serendipity



Serendipity, the faculty of making fortunate and unexpected discoveries by accident, is recognized today as playing a key role in sparking innovation. It does not seem, however, to be manageable by any means, which has kept it as a relatively unexplored subject of research. This paper claims that, although it may not be possible to program serendipity, it is quite possible to program for serendipity, that is, to induce serendipitous insights through the use of computers. The paper begins by commenting on the nature of serendipity and on its relationship to conventional creativity, before it presents Max, a software agent that uses simple information retrieval techniques and heuristic search to wander on the Internet and uncover information aimed at stimulating serendipitous insights.


Serendipity, creative insights, information retrieval, chance discovery.



Cited by

Year 2014 : 1 citations

 Corneli, J., Pease, A., Colton, S., Jordanous, A., and Guckelsberger, C. (2014). Modelling Serendipity in a Computational Context. arXiv:1411.0440v1 [cs.AI] 3 Nov2014.

Year 2011 : 3 citations

 Piao, S. & Whittle, J. (2011) A Feasibility Study on Extracting Twitter Users’ Interests using NLP Tools for Serendipitous Connections, 2011 IEEE International Conference on Privacy, Security, Risk, and Trust, and IEEE International Conference on Social Computing, 910-915.

 McCay-Peet, L. & Toms, E. G. (2011) Measuring the dimensions of serendipity in digital environments, Information Research, 16(3).

 Natali Helberger (2011) Diversity by Design, Journal of Information Policy, Vol 1.

Year 2010 : 1 citations

 Abfalter, M. (2010) Empfehlungssysteme für Audio-Communities am Beispiel des Projekts miii, Diplomarbeit, eingereicht am Fachhochschul-Masterstudiengang Digitale in im Medien Hagenberg.

Year 2008 : 2 citations

 Knouf, N., Lam, F., Mae Liu, C., & Nordrum, J. (2008) DRIP: A Toast to Interpersonal Communications and Information Exchange,

 Iaquinta, L., De Gemmis, M., Lops, P., Semeraro, G., Filannino, M., Molino, P. (2008) Introducing Serendipity in a Content-Based Recommender System. HIS '08, Eighth International Conference on Hybrid Intelligent Systems, pp.168-173.

Year 2007 : 1 citations (2007) Bibliographie sur la sérendipité,
(current Dec 22, 2007)

Year 2006 : 1 citations

 C4. Rieder, B. 2006. Métatechnologies et delegation: Pour un design orienté-société dans l"ère du Web 2.0. These pour obtenir le grade de Docteur de L"Université Paris 8.

Year 2004 : 1 citations

 Newell, C. & Edwards, A. D. N. (2004) "To be or to seem to be; that is the question." Unnatural but lively speech synthesis for believable synthetic performers: Models from acting. Proceedings of the AISB 2004 Symposium on Language, Speech & Gesture for Expressive Characters, Leeds, The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour.

Year 2003 : 2 citations

 Kretzenbacher, H. L. (2003) "The Aesthetics and Heuristics of Analogy " Model and Metaphor in Chemical Communication", HYLE--International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry, Vol. 9, No.2, pp. 191-218.

 Whitworth, B. & Zaic, M. (2003) "The WOSP Model: Balanced Information System Design and Evaluation", Communications of the Association for Information Systems (Volume 12, 2003) 258-282.