In praise of serendipity

I was chatting with a Head of Knowledge recently about Twitter and how some sections of the legal sector are very resistant to using it, even as just another broadcast medium or as a knowledge-sharing tool to connect its professionals to others in their field.

Mulling over our conversation, I was thinking about all the reasons why I’m such a fan, despite the fact that I have to be very disciplined to avoid it becoming a time waster.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the major reasons I’m a fan (apart from the obvious fact that you can converse and connect, not just receive broadcast messages), is that it has re-introduced serendipity into my working life.  Because people tweet about whatever moves them (work, hobbies, news, politics, interests, life) it introduces me to ideas that I wouldn’t necessarily come across otherwise.  For me, this is a fantastic spark for innovative thought.

In my usual working world, search engines on subscription legal information sites and searchable online books, together with  the semantic web, focus my updates and search results in increasingly efficient way.

I get fewer and fewer opportunities to leaf through books when working, and this means that I am losing the opportunity to stumble upon something interesting.

I miss the serendipity.

It is always such a joy to find something that is perhaps not relevant now, but is interesting and can be mentally tucked away for another time, or something that is not directly relevant, but introduces a new way of looking at existing problems and sparks a thought or sends me in a totally different direction.

For me, Twitter fills that gap.  It enables me to connect with people on a “whole person” level. I hear about their hobbies as well as their business news.

Twitter may be a river that you only dip your toe into, but it is full of surprises and can sweep you away in unexpected directions.

What do you think?  Have you been missing serendipity and if so, how have you re-introduced it into your working life?

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About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
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