Researching Serendipity in Digital Information Environments

Researching Serendipity in Digital Information Environments

Lori McCay-Peet, Elaine G. Toms
ISBN: 9781681730936 | PDF ISBN: 9781681730943
Copyright © 2017 | 107 Pages | Publication Date: September, 2017

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Chance, luck, and good fortune are the usual go-to descriptors of serendipity, a phenomenon aptly often coupled with famous anecdotes of accidental discoveries in engineering and science in modern history such as penicillin, Teflon, and Post-it notes. Serendipity, however, is evident in many fields of research, in organizations, in everyday life - and there is more to it than luck implies. While the phenomenon is strongly associated with in-person interactions with people, places, and things, most attention of late has focused on its preservation and facilitation within digital information environments. Serendipity's association with unexpected, positive user experiences and outcomes has spurred an interest in understanding both how current digital information environments support serendipity and how novel approaches may be developed to facilitate it. Research has sought to understand serendipity, how it is manifested in people's personality traits and behaviors, how it may be facilitated in digital information environments such as mobile applications, and its impacts on an individual, an organizational, and a wider level. Because serendipity is expressed and understood in different ways in different contexts, multiple methods have been used to study the phenomenon and evaluate digital information environments that may support it. This volume brings together different disciplinary perspectives and examines the motivations for studying serendipity, the various ways in which serendipity has been approached in the research, methodological approaches to build theory, and how it may be facilitated. Finally, a roadmap for serendipity research is drawn by integrating key points from this volume to produce a framework for the examination of serendipity in digital information environments.

Table of Contents

What Drives Serendipity Research
Approaches to Serendipity
Facilitating Serendipity
Methods and Measurement
Conclusion and Framework
Appendix A
Appendix B
Author Biographies

About the Author(s)

Lori McCay-Peet, Dalhousie University
Lori McCay-Peet works in government in the area of corporate information management and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Her research focuses on people's perceptions and uses of digital information environments, particularly in the context of knowledge work. Her Ph.D. research, funded by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship, investigated the facets of a digital environment that may facilitate serendipity. She has published and presented her research in several information science and computer science publications and venues including the Journal of the Association of Information Science and Technology, Information Research, Information Processing and Management, and the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

Elaine G. Toms, University of Sheffield
Elaine Toms is Professor of Information Innovation & Management in the Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. Prior to this she held posts at the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University (including a Canada Research Chair) in Canada. She researches information interaction in complex information use environments, focusing on the human use of technology to support human tasks and how to evaluate the technology and the processes. Serendipity has been a lifelong research interest from the Ph.D. research when her research design "caused" serendipity to occur, to the present which is now immersed in how we might nurture serendipity in our digital spaces. Along the way her work was supported by a number of research agencies including in particular the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chairs Program, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.


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