If all you ever do is set-up your own Google Alerts and only follow Blogs and news sites that are of interest to you, you’re actually going to lead a very uncreative life.
While many people argue that they hate mass media and the advertising that comes with it, there is something underneath it all that you really can’t live without: the serendipity of it all. Without question being able to leverage the power of RSS to choose and filter the vast amounts of content is an amazingly powerful tool that makes all of us smarter. But, if all we’re doing is filtering everything else out based on our preferences, we may miss something that we might come into our lives via incident or accident, and that would truly be a shame.
How many times are flipping through the channels and come across something amazing on TV?
How many times do you pick up a magazine to uncover an article (or two) of interest that you would have never read normally?
How many times have you been parked in the driveway waiting to hear how a segment on NPR ends?
How many times have you seen a print ad and said to yourself, "wow, I didn’t know that was available?"
That’s serendipity… and it’s powerful. It’s all about stumbling into something (by happenstance) that gets you to think differently or creates an awareness you did not have before.
One of the personal ways that I have been experimenting with serendipity is by reading a handful of magazines cover to cover (they include: Wired, Fast Company, Inc., Technology Review and a few others) even when the story or news item is not relevant to me. Or, by watching TV shows like Bill Moyers, Charlie Rose and The Agenda with Steve Paikin even if the topic doesn’t interest me. I’m also paying a lot more attention to the mass advertising that I am exposed to (including TV, radio, print and billboards). While the core of my media consumption is done through Google Reader and what kind folks like you refer me to in places like Twitter and Facebook, I am doing everything I can to expose myself to other forms of media that might give me newer and different ways to think. Who knows, maybe I can apply them to my business? Maybe it will inspire a different type of Blog post? Maybe it will just make me more empathetic?
The trick now is to embrace more serendipity by choosing additional pieces of media that aren’t even relevant to my areas of interest or have more broad-ranging topics.
Either way, closing yourself off to everything that you think may not be of interest to you, is one sure way to make yourself more close-minded.