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August 8, 2013 / carlispina

Spark New Paths of Research with Serendip-O-Matic

Whether you are looking for a creative new angle for your research or you just want to find new and exciting materials that relate to your interests, Serendip-O-Matic is a fun new tool that will help you uncover materials that you likely won’t find through other search engines. Created by a group of librarians, museum professionals, students and scholars, this new search tool helps users to find inspirational material by identifying key terms in their research notes, a clip of text from the internet (such as a Wikipedia entry) or even an entire Zotero library. It then uses these terms to search through materials from museums, libraries and archival collections around the world. The goal is to help researchers to make serendipitous discoveries and connections that they might not otherwise make by returning a range of results from several sources.

Regardless of whether you are a serious researcher or simply interested in finding new images, this new tool is definitely a lot of fun and very intriguing. When I ran a simple search, a variety of results came from DPLA, Trove, Europeana, and Flickr Commons, including many different types of images that were related to the search. As the tool notes, the “search results aren’t meant to be exhaustive, but rather suggestive, pointing you to materials you might not have discovered,” so users shouldn’t expect to use this as a primary research tool. But, it can nevertheless provide some fun new paths for research by returning an interesting mix of images related to the topic. If you like the results you also have the option to “Save the Results” which will list basic citation information, such as name, URL and source, on a separate page that is formatted to be pasted into a text document. Serendip-O-Matic is a fun new option for bringing serendipitous connections to online research that will almost certainly continue to improve over time. It is well worth checking out, and, if you are a web developer, it is also worth considering contributing to this interesting, open-source project.



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