Open the Stacks!


Of all the asinine arguments against the Internet, the silliest is the idea that looking things up online somehow eliminates serendipity. This notion has been floating around the ether for years now, repeated ad nauseum by people who clearly have never done a Google search in their lives; I don't know if it's even necessary to respond to them, but Steven Johnson has done a fine job of explaining the obvious:

Thanks to the connective nature of hypertext, and the blogosphere's exploratory hunger for finding new stuff, the web is the greatest serendipity engine in the history of culture. It is far, far easier to sit down in front of your browser and stumble across something completely brilliant but surprising than it is walking through a library looking at the spines of books.

Speaking of libraries: I wish some of those Save Serendipity warriors would stop wasting their time denouncing the Internet and start going after libraries with closed stacks. Asking a librarian to fetch a book for you is like hitting the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.