Organizing for Serendipity

Johnson mentions the concept of a journal in previous chapters. I summarized how writing down your ideas and hunches is a really effective way of clarifying your thoughts and exploring an idea thoroughly. But it turns out there is yet another benefit, and it has to do with serendipity.

Johnson organizes all of his writing, interesting finds, quotes, ideas, and musings in a software called DEVONTHINK. I don’t personally have any experience with this software, but it sounds pretty nifty. (There is no cool way to express the exact same thing as “nifty,” so I have to use that super cool word.)

When Johnson searches for something in his notes, DEVONTHINK returns a lot of matches for what it thinks he is looking for. However, it’s imprecise. It returns a lot of stuff that might be related, so in a way, it creates a serendipitous listing of entries for Johnson to review.

This jumbling of his notes together allows him to see interesting threads between what would otherwise seem like disparate topics.

In other words, he can make connections between ideas that would otherwise not happen deliberately. The returned entries of his query are bump into each other in a serendipitous manner. It’s like a cocktail party where the invites went out to a group of nearly random people.

The point of this post is to say that you should organize for serendipity. Find a way to keep all of your ideas and knowledge easily referenced, but allow for a little imprecision when searching for a something in the future.