What does it need to discover the unknown? Google or a floppy hat?  by Minnesota Historical Society; flicker

Photo on Flicker by Minnesota Historical Society

I have a habit of piling up clippings of newspaper articles I found interesting. Every now and then I dig into them for the golden nugget. One of such a cutting is telling the story of the journeyman Daniel from North-Friesland Germany. Daniel is a baker, he left his hometown with a stick and a bundle, and as sign for his ignorance he was wearing a floppy hat. After three years and one day wandering around, stopping here and there he went home proudly wearing a top-hat.

In his blog post, Jovan Kurbalija is reflecting the ‘googelisation’ of Internet searches. The system calculates what we are looking for. We don’t get the open range but a pre-selection within the range of our previous search patterns. Google attributes us our sphere of interest to make our search easier and more useful.

So while the journeyman follows his nose on the search for unexpected and unknown, we are stuck with Google and preselected hits? How and where do we make real discoveries and dig out new ideas?

Jovan: the history of innovation and creativity shows that innovation is often a result of combining “useless knowledge”.

That reminds me of a short clip from Steven Johnson. He talks about good ideas appearing in slow hunches, time and incubation, collision of ideas.

It’s the combination of insights and ideas that can make the difference. For Steven Johnson: Chance favors the connective mind.

For me this is serendipity, my favorite English word anyway, the chance of discovery, the happy moments when on a sudden good ideas come through and come together with other good ideas. I definitely go for the floppy hat approach but I won’t stop googeling around.