Nicholas Carr has a thoughtful (no surprise there) response to our most excellent serendipity thread from a few days ago:
Once you create an engine - a machine - to produce serendipity, you destroy the essence of serendipity. It becomes something expected rather than something unexpected. Looking for serendipity? Just follow these easy links! Serendipity becomes a game of trivial pursuit. It becomes an end in itself rather than an unanticipated surprise that leads you to some greater understanding. Serendipity should be a doorway, but on the web it's a kitschy picture stuck on your refrigerator with a magnet.
He's stacking the deck here slightly by referencing a Google tool called Serendipity that Eric Schmidt previewed a while back. The real "machine for serendipity" that I was referring to in my original post is not nearly that specific: it's the architecture of the web itself, which was not explicitly designed for accidental discoveries (quite the opposite, in fact) but which turns out to have an additional, unplanned serendipity-enhancing effect. (One that has been amplified by the growth of the blogosphere.) The web is a machine for serendipity in precisely the way that the Dewey Decimal System or the OED or a city neighborhood is a machine for serendipity. There's nothing kitschy about that.