Serendipity Society at the World Humanities Conference

Sabrina Sauer will be one of five researchers presenting work on serendipity at the Serendipity Society Symposium, hosted at the World Humanities Conference in Liège on the 9th of August 2017.

Symposium descriptionSerendipity in research is associated with the now classic experience of looking for a book on a library shelf, and finding another, even more valuable, book. However, our world is increasingly technical – traditional approaches to humanities research must integrate with the tools of scientific methodology and information technology. Nonetheless, there is a continuing need for insight and creativity, even in a world of controlled experiments and algorithms, and people continue to make unexpected and unpredictable discoveries. How does serendipity, a concept born in the humanities, clarify and contextualize the current push toward ‘innovation’? How do humanities researchers today experience serendipity? What is the nature of the ‘unsought finding’? How can we ensure future opportunities for serendipity? What technologies enable valuable, yet unpredictable, discoveries? This Symposium presses upon the boundaries between disciplines to illustrate how research in all fields will—and should—continue to be a human experience above all. 

Sabrina’s paper titled “Serendipitous search practices of media researchers: Developing techniques to elicit ‘the unforeseen’” deals with the relation between serendipity, creativity and search. It presents insights into the role of serendipitous search for media researchers’ unearthing of research ideas and insights. Media researchers increasingly rely on digital access to audiovisual archived material to collect data. This stipulates that to retrieve relevant material, researchers require an in-depth understanding of digital search. Using qualitative (focus group and interview) data, this paper draws conclusions about how media researchers experience and elicit serendipitous search, as a form of craft. These conclusions aid the development of new search algorithms that embrace serendipitous search as a source of innovation.

Read more about the Serendipity Society here!