The KSeeker

In Search of Knowledge…

Serendipity vs Social Leverage

Posted by Girish Krishnan on November 23, 2006

Quoting this one from an interesting link in HBR – trying my “cryptic” pen after that!

There is a small story about finding longitude at sea – book by  Dava Sobel titled
[Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time]. Finding longitude at sea was one of the toughest economic, scientific, and technological problems up until the eighteenth century. Isaac Newton said the only way to solve the problem was through astronomical methods, but he was proven wrong because someone from rural Yorkshire, England, came up with a clock that could keep time at sea. Nobody had anticipated that that kind of invention was practical.

The article talks about Open Source Science as a new model for innovation – In a perfect world, scientists share problems and work together on solutions for the good of society. In the real world, however, that’s usually not the case….

But with some modifications, We could easily generalize this one to use in our daily lives, rather this method derives its origin from the notion of people helping each other in a society and gaining as a whole.

The insight is that what you want to do is open up your problem to other people—not just to serendipity, but in some systematic way.

There are always issues around personal incentives, silos, and so forth, but that could be taken care by approaching the right people, or may be by posing your own case as a third party problem.

But ya, i dont think we should rule out serendipity from life – Am pretty much naive to comment of the concept of “Free Will” vs “Pawns in the Grand Plan”…its just that we could try to do as much as we can to clarify stuff and leave the rest to fate..


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