The Serendipity of Social Media: Nothing Happens by Chance…

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When I was in high school wending my way through the typical teen angst of that time, I found myself reading (perhaps not so surprisingly) quite a bit of work by Richard Bach. Cheesy though some may find it to be, there was one quote in particular that resonated and continues to do so today – nothing happens by chance.

In the world where I dwell, a place of paths lined with ones and zeros, the inclination to more linear thought is not uncommon. Things in technology don’t generally happen by chance. They’re planned. Carefully orchestrated and coded. Yet as I spend more and more time on-line the serendipitous nature of social networks and technologies continues to amaze me.

A random connection to a new friend may result in reconnecting with a long-lost friend from childhood. Is it six degrees of Kevin Bacon syndrome or truly just chance?

In this talk from last fall’s Web 2.0 Expo/NY, social media consultant Chris Brogan touches on the aspect of serendipity in social technology and highlights how by harnessing the happenstance, people not only gain greater experience from expected sources but may in the process discover amazing new things, people and places.

I receive friend requests on Facebook from people with whom I may have had no in person contact at all but perhaps merely some online communications. As a rule, I eschew connections on networks like Facebook where I don’t know the individual in, as I like to say, carbon based life form. There have been, however, a few exceptions to that rule and in all but one case I have to say that the chance I took at opening my digital door to a relative stranger proved a good decision.

More often than not, taking a chance and reaching out beyond your comfort zone is more than just a good thing, it can result in learning something new, finding a passion, making a new friend, or as AT&T purports in this current TVad, taking a chance and using technology to take advantage of serendipity may result in something truly special.

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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