the cost of free things part three: serenDDDDipity

January 31, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Posted in musings | Leave a comment
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(quick addendum to part two: just pre-ordered the Galena CD thereby not only paying for something but paying for it weeks before it is released.  Feeling super-smug up here on the moral high ground.  OK, on with the show…)

As mentioned in part two, the finest consequence of my initial post in this series has been the response it provoked in the mighty DDDD.  Simon’s piece was not entirely in agreement with mine but chimed absolutely with what I was getting at and expanded eloquently on a couple of things I’d merely touched on or left unsaid.  I asked if he fancied providing a precis as a guest post for RFM.  He respectfully declined, saying:

…believe it or not, but experience has taught me that these hyper-fast-speed-written ddd rants are things of fragile beauty and if they’re meddled about with afterwards they collapse…

This is, of course, perfectly reasonable so I find myself feeling a bit sheepish for making the request.  Like showing my enthusiasm for a large action painting by asking the artist to point out the ‘best bits’.  How gauche.  Simon has indicated that he may comment further in future so, in the meantime, I will groove on three ideas he introduced: serendipity, investment and the nature and use of reviews.  Yes, I have shamelessly ripped out some quotes but don’t you dare use that as an excuse for not going to read his whole bit in situ.  

Serendipity

Defined as “a propensity for making fortunate discoveries while looking for something unrelated” and is a joy that has been flattened by infinite accessibility.  Simon says:

The pleasure to be had from digging in the crates is one that I had entirely forgotten, as is the discipline of selecting from a limited choice.  I realise that I had completely fallen for the ersatz serendipity of ‘inspired by your browsing history’ or ‘customers that bought this item also bought this’.  Why this apparently harmless and helpful service is actually hateful is that it is a mechanically generated marketing tool.  Worse, it is endless – the crate is bottomless and always full.  Click on any of the ‘recommendations’ and get six more.  A few clicks deep and you’ll find that buying more or less anything will lead to you being punted almost anything else.  Perhaps there is a new variation of six degrees of Kevin Bacon to be played via Amazon with a prize for whoever links Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing to The Circus in the fewest steps.

But is not the contemporary equivalent of digging in the crates searching the blogs for rare and otherwise unavailable goodies?  Well, yes, I feel the temptation but this is what leads to the amassing of ridiculously girthsome archives.  Leaving legality to one side, downloading involves no investment.  That will be the subject of the next bit.

Gotta do my homework now – school tomorrow.

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