Serendipity is Dead…. Long Live Serendipity

The panel will explore whether digital technologies and current personalization of content promotes or stifles serendipity and its role, with people and computers, new product developments, technologies and practices such as those that are redefining literacy, and in reshaping how we discover, record and innovate.
Dates: 
Monday, 19 September, 2011 - 09:00 - 10:30
Chair Person: 
Mel Woods
Presenters: 
Geraint Wiggins
Presenters: 
Aleks Krotoski
Presenters: 
Clive Gillman

Chair: Mel Woods
2nd Chair: Geraint Wiggins

Many scientific and artistic innovations have been attributed to serendipity, the faculty of making and recognising fortunate and unexpected discoveries by accident. The phenomenon is widely regarded across disciplines as a valuable way of sparking research ideas and triggering new connections. However, while there is a widespread understanding that serendipity is a major contributor to innovation, there is disagreement as to whether digital technologies promote or stifle serendipity.

The Worldwide Web has allowed us to make many positive changes in our society and environment, for example through social networking and e-publishing, but it also presents problems, by its very nature. Recently serendipity, and the role that the worldwide web and social networks now play in search query for information seeking, has received attention from library and information science, psychology, and computer science, art and design. This renewed interest and dialogue across art and science seeks to understand, support and facilitate serendipity across digital and physical environments.

The panel will explore the notion of serendipity, from the understanding of its role in art and science in digital domains. The debate will explore of the social and intellectual nature of serendipitous interaction, with people and computers; new developments in products, technologies and practices such as those that are redefining literacy and reshaping how we discover, record and innovate; the use and enhancement of Semantic Web technology; and the role of new media and digital arts in transforming and presenting information and ideas.

Paper Abstracts

TBA

Bios of the Participants

Aleks Krotoski

Aleks Krotoski is an academic and journalist who writes about and studies technology and interactivity. Her PhD thesis in Social Psychology (University of Surrey, 2009) examined how information spreads around the social networks of the World Wide Web. She is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute and the Researcher-in-Residence for the British Library’s Growing Knowledge exhibition.

She completed the 4-part, prime time BBC 2 series Virtual Revolution in early 2010, about the social history of the World Wide Web. She blogged for the project outlining her manifestos about the social, political, economic and psychological impact of the 20 years of the Web.

Aleks writes for The Guardian and Observer newspapers, and hosts Tech Weekly, their technology podcast. Her writing also appears in Nature, BBC Technology, New Statesman, MIT Technology Review and The Telegraph.
Finally, she’s the New Media Sector Champion for UKTI, the government department that promotes British businesses around the world.

Clive Gillman

Clive Gillman is an artist and since 1995 has been the Director of Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland's largest arts and media centre. He has a background working with media-based arts, both as an artist and also through working on the development of the cultural infrastructure in the UK. He has shown works internationally and developed a number of internet-based public art projects including 'Metroscopes' (http://www.metroscopes.net), a permanent public work in the centre of Liverpool.

Clive has held roles in organisations and institutions such as London Video Access, St.Martins School of Art, West Surrey College of Art & Design, and was instrumental in the development and concept for the 11m FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Centre, MITES (the national exhibition technology resource) and New Tools workshop programme in Liverpool, UK. During this time he also initiated a number of research and development initiatives bringing together artists and technologists with support from NESTA, BTExact and Arts Council England.

Clive has spoken and written widely on topics such as new media culture, arts and regeneration, civic cultural policy and media literacy.

Geraint Wiggins

Geraint Wiggins is Professor of Computational Creativity at Goldsmiths. He has worked in academic research since 1984, publishing in computational linguistics, computational logic, music education, computational music cognition and computational creativity, the last two being current areas of study. He holds PhDs, separately, in artificial intelligence and music. He has edited conference proceedings in music cognition, and special issues. He is Associate Editor (English) of Musicæ Scientiæ and a consulting editor of Music Perception. He has worked on underpinning frameworks and methodology for the study of creativity in Artifical Intelligence. He has led substantial research projects and collaborations for research councils in the UK, as well as Arts/Science Fellowship and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Mel Woods

Mel Woods is Programme Director of Postgraduate Studies in Art and Media at DJCAD, University of Dundee. Her research in Art and Design has developed interaction and interfaces, which operate between physical and digital spaces; these have been exhibited and published internationally. She is an exponent of interdisciplinary research and particularly the overlap in art, humanities and computing.

Mel is currently Principal Investigator for reseach project ‘SerenA - Chance Encounters in the Space of Ideas’ which is investigating Serendipity and its role in information encounter and discovery in physical and digital environments. Recent works include Sonic Phonic an interactive prototype to investigate the impact of the digital fusion of image and sound through the alphabet and a major commission in collaboration with artist Lei Cox for 'The Dark Room'.

Mel is a founding member of Girl Geeks Scotland and has worked with NESTA and Cultural Enterprise Office as a mentor for entrepreneurs in the creative industries to guide innovative creative projects to market. She has led research projects funded by RCUK, NESTA, Cultural Enterprise, Scottish Arts Council, Historic Scotland, HiArts and Forestry Commission.