The Serendipity Engine is a physical manifestation of theoretical and technological interventions that can be used to enhance serendipity on the World Wide Web. It is a working machine that uses bike parts, flower pots, cake, pulleys, lightbulbs and other concrete objects to articulate the processes that could be translated into digital “solutions” that will re-engineer the potential dystopian social trajectories of current (social) software trends*. It is being theorised, devised, designed, developed and welded together by Dr Aleks Krotoski and Dr Katrina Jungnickel.
Each of the components of The Serendipity Engine will highlight problems observed by digital theorists, designers and technologists with the way the Web currently works - linguistic barriers, echo chambers - by proposing one vision of how the technology can be re-tooled to increase serendipitous encounters. The aim of the machine is to inspire insight into the social and cultural effects of the decisions that developers make - often for commercial reasons and at the (explicit or implicit) requests of consumers - through simple, lateral demonstration.
The Serendipity Engine will be presented at TEDx in June, and in a Royal Institution of Great Britain lecture in November. It is #2 in a series of Enquiry Machines curated by Kat and Julien McHardy, which “render visible the labour of knowledge making”.
*cyber-balkanisation, cultural homogenisation, cross-cultural antagonism