Serendipity Society Symposium at the World Humanities Conference

Five Society members will be coming together to present a Symposium, The ‘Future of Serendipity’ in a Changing World, at the World Humanties Conference in Liège this August.

The Serendipity Symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, August 9, from 16:30 to 18:00 – we are parallel session VI.27 in the online program, here.

Serendipity 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. 

(download full abstracts for individual talks here)

Sylvie Catellin:
Sérendipité: Entre sciences et humanités, un concept au cœur de la créativité / Serendipity: Between science and humanities, a concept at the heart of creativity

Emanuele Bardone:
Inquiry, chance events, and abduction

Samantha Copeland:
Innovation as serendipity: Distinguishing between novelty and progress

Selene Arfini:
The risks of serendipitous browsing: The exploitation of ignorance in social media

Sabrina Sauer:
Serendipitous search practices of media researchers: Developing techniques to elicit ‘the unforeseen’



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