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Entertainment is a natural need. Anticipation is a human hunger. What’s better than feeling completely catered to, without losing the excitement of surprise? We know what we like and what our interests are, but can’t always define what we desire in the moment. Customized serendipity, inherent in the discovery experience of StumbleUpon, allows you to find novel, fascinating and inspiring content based on things you care about.
Everyone wants to be the one that enlightens friends with the outlandish zombie story they found, a stunning image of Fiji or impulsive idea for a road trip through the Catskill Mountains. You can be that pillar of knowledge, bringing an unexpected spark to your social circles, academic projects and upcoming adventures through stumbling content on StumbleUpon that you’ll think was made for you (and you alone) to find.
The non-mobile web has always offered on-demand experiences for users to search for and discover new online content. But with the proliferation of mobile phones that report real-time signals like location, apps and services have a new ability to serendipitously deliver contextually-relevant value through push notifications. If you’re building a mobile service and have access to this data, can you use it with push notifications to do what you do better for your users, wherever they are? Our panelists have all built products and platforms that illuminate the social and informational opportunities hidden around us everyday. We’ve balanced privacy, timing, and proximity in order to nudge our users off their familiar paths and into discovering the people and world around them, and you can too -- for fun AND profit!
Forget the hype surrounding the social web for a moment, what about something a little further out? This talk will paint a picture of two possible futures, along the way asking the audience to help decide in 2012 if either has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming a reality. Choose between:
1. Brands and users operate in a future-perfect environment of algorithm-driven, sublime relevance, where no nanobyte of data is wasted. Brands display artificial intelligence - becoming, in effect, self-aware - able to determine without human intervention how best to serve their customers. This leads to a glorious future of zero spam and delightful indolence amongst humanity as AI machines do all the work.. for now.
2. Brands and their users seek to fight for discovery and serendipity. Attempting at every juncture to circumvent the algorithmic tramlines laid down for their own good. Co-creating an open web with benevolent, politically neutral technology partners and real-world spaces where tech simply does not penetrate, this is the Wild West, 2050.
by Cory Levy
How many times have you seen someone you wanted to talk to, but did not quite know how? This is the question that led to the creation of One, a mobile application that notifies you when there is someone right next to you with similar interests. People meet their best friends and their spouses by coincidence. Why is that? I found that people are aware of very little around them. At the University of Illinois, I used to walk down the Engineering Quad every single day. Hundreds of people pass me, and I do not know any of them. This is so silly. Technology is replacing face-to-face interaction. Technology is making people unsocial. One is the opposite. I am trying to turn coincidence into a science. One helps you create face-to-face interactions. One connects you to the 99% of the world you haven’t met yet. The implications of the product are boundless, being utilized by students wanting to connect with classmates, people seeking new friends, businesses seeking customers (or vice-versa), or helping potential lovebirds meet. One helps remove the barrier that often exists between people and reveals meaningful opportunities you would have otherwise been unaware of. For example, if you list a major interest as smoothies, you may be alerted that another smoothie-lover is in the room. Or, that a local Smoothie King is giving away discounted smoothies. If you receive no notifications, you can simply click on “smoothies” and learn about a new blend receiving awards, or read recent reviews on popular mixes. Right now, people around you are strangers. This is not by choice, but by technical limitations. We think one day very soon, our kids will say "there was a time when we you didn't know everything about the people right next to you?" One allows you to fill in the blanks. One helps you form meaningful connections with people who would otherwise be strangers.
Call it chance, luck, or juju, serendipity is the act of unexpectedly finding something of value. It is the muse of innovation and a silent driver of business; consider how Alexander Fleming's accidental discovery of the antibiotic penicillin revolutionized medicine, reducing suffering across the entire world. From the world changing to the mundane task of finding relevant information on Google+ or Twitter, serendipity is the mysterious force that gives us the breaks that many of us seek.
But what is serendipity? How do you encourage it? Is there a downside to it? How does it apply to work, art or play? Can you design for serendipity? We say you can and should. Whether you’re building the next super social network, doing scientific research, or building a community, there are steps you can take and skills you can develop to help you recognize and act on it. It is more than just naturally being fortuitous; rather, it takes practice to get lucky.
“Get Lucky” is a manual for serendipity: what it is, how it works, and how to put it to work for you. As the pace of change accelerates around our businesses and the sheer volume of information explodes, we're under incredible pressure to connect just in time with the people and ideas we need to thrive, even when we don’t know who they are or where they might be. This uncertainty isn’t a problem, however—it brings tremendous opportunities, but only if we embrace one of the most important drivers of success in the modern economy: serendipity. Serendipity isn’t an abstract, magical notion—it can be planned. Though we can’t know exactly when serendipity will strike, we can foster the conditions for it to occur early and often. Luck isn’t lucky—it's learnable. This session will show you how the world’s most admired businesses have applied the 8 essential skills of serendipity.
We all know social media's genius at pretending to read our minds. Facebook and Google+ reintroduce us to our friends; Pandora plays us music we're algorithmically likely to enjoy; Amazon delivers us to authors who feel statistically familiar. This sleight of hand flatters us and pulls us inward.
But what it doesn’t do so well is surprise us. Our sense of serendipity—the startling coincidence, the amazing happenstance—has eroded severely. A random greeting from a long-lost friend once would have been a lightning bolt in your day; by now, it’s much tougher to lose touch with someone than get reacquainted. If your most discreet pals plot your surprise party, their presence in your location-based apps will give up the ghost. Want to go wander around a foreign city? Forget it: Google has made getting lost not just obsolete but technically impossible.
Will surprise be the next hot online commodity? We’ve seen signs that it might. Chatroulette’s randomness enthralled us briefly, and group-deal sites’ digital coupons deliver us the odd caipoeira lesson—but could surprise be more valuable than that? Will social media, or advertisers, figure out how to sell us back our serendipity?
9th–13th March 2012