Search and Serendipity

In the Autumn issue of the ACMs SIGWEB newsletter (for members) I came across – Rasmus Rosenqvist Petersen. 2013. Criminal network investigation is all about hypertext. SIGWEB Newsl. Autumn, Article 2 (September 2013), 7 pages. DOI=10.1145/2528272.2528274 (Bib at the End). And this got me to thinking about Search and Serendipity.

Hypertext is for Thinking

Hypertext is for Thinking

People always ask me, well really it’s a statement (and they are often looking smug), “so why do we need the full set of hypertext linking when we have Google”; “browsing is redundant we can just search for it on Google”; or “search means we don’t need hypertext any-more!” (the last is obviously damn right stupid – to anyone who knows anything and the Web – but they still say it!).

This short discussion on Criminal network investigation says it all. Search has it’s place – but hypertext, linking, browsing, and the serendipitous discoveries they facilitate are for thinkers and thinking. To gain knowledge and understanding when you don’t know what it is you are looking for – or famously when we know what we don’t know.

“there are no “knowns.” There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know. ”

Rumsfeld, Press Conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 6, 2002.

Search is great if you know what it is you are searching for, or even for things that seem to be tenuously related. But search is for the collection of the knowns. Hypertext in it’s true form, by looking at links and the absence of links, the direction of links, and the type of link in question enables thinking, and it enables us to both know what we don’t know (and therefore try and address it) as well as helping us to move unknown unknowns to known unknowns.

‘Hypertext’ is for Thinking and Discovery; Search is for Retrieval and Collection.

Full paper Details at:

 author = {Petersen, Rasmus Rosenqvist},
 title = {Criminal Network Investigation is All About Hypertext},
 journal = {SIGWEB Newsl.},
 issue_date = {Autumn 2013},
 number = {Autumn},
 month = sep,
 year = {2013},
 issn = {1931-1745},
 pages = {2:1--2:7},
 articleno = {2},
 numpages = {7},
 url = {},
 doi = {10.1145/2528272.2528274},
 acmid = {2528274},
 publisher = {ACM},
 address = {New York, NY, USA},

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s