Nick Bilton’s title phrase — Controlled Serendipity — in the NY Times last week spread virally in the Twitterverse for several days. The phrase resonates for me, with hints of “Zen and the art of Web searching” — How to approach the whole idea of Web searching, cultivating an awareness of when it’s good to follow unexpected paths and when it’s a waste of time (the subject of another article maybe).

The point I want to make here is that Bilton’s article is a good read for librarians — Beyond the catchy title words, he also uses other “library-like” language. Marcus Banks, a librarian at the UCSF Medical Center Library, makes the same point on his blog

Bilton’s language in this post is very reminiscent of library talk:  “filtering,” “curation,” even “serendipity”  (call number systems are designed to encourage serendipity while browsing the shelves.) So there is definitely a role–a huge one, if still ill-defined–for librarians in taming and honing the Web.   As this role becomes more clear, each of us should continue to make our deposits into what Bilton terms the digital “daisy chain.”

So, Librarians — Join the Discussion! If you use Twitter, now’s the time — The stream passes quickly…

A last point — Not enough credit seems to be going to Maria Popova, who’s cited by Bilton as having coined the “Controlled Serendipity” phrase, and who also uses many of the other “library talk” words cited by Banks. So, thank you, Maria — @brainpicker on Twitter — for the great language!

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Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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