A Search Tool For Serendipity

The fun of coincidentally finding random old media with “LOC Serendipity”

As of late I’ve expounded on “rewilding your attention” — or, why it’s great to invest less energy taking a gander at the algorithmically-arranged feeds of social media …

… and go chasing after the more unusual, woolier stuff in the inquisitive corners of the Web (and the disconnected world, as well).

As I noted in my most memorable piece regarding this matter, the algorithms in social-media takes care of be useful qualities. They generally advance posts that are rapidly ascending in popularity, so they’re a brilliant way to monitor subjects that large number of individuals are talking about. They associate us to the enormous, extreme conversations existing apart from everything else.

Yet, this means they’re probably not going to shock us.

A main push of social-media algorithms is to inspire us to pay attention to the viral stuff — for example the same things that great many others are checking out. This resembles monocropping your attention, and consequently your reasoning. You’re less inclined to have a fascinating groundbreaking idea on the off chance that you’re reading and contemplating the exact same stuff as every other person.

In this way, rewilding your attention means infusing more variety into your reading/watching — by chasing down stuff that’s outside of what might be expected. This offbeat stuff is far bound to get your brain ticking, and to expand the stuff you ponder.

As I composed …

Instead of swarming your attention with what’s already circulating around the web on the intertubes, center around the odd stuff. Chase down the idiosyncratic posts and recordings that individuals are distributing, customarily to little and specialty audiences. It’s positively unviral culture — however establishing to you the seed of a rare, novel idea is more probable.

Okay, cool. In any case, — how would you rewild your attention?

GLAD YOU ASKED. One of my new pasttimes is gathering tools and procedures for rewilding. I composed a post about “9 Ways To ‘Rewild Your Attention'”, and one about search motors that were intended to shock you. So I’m always on the chase after gewgaws that are intended to present to me the strange stuff.

I as of late viewed as another: The LOC Serendipity search motor.

The creator, knowing my zeal for Abnormal Search, emailed me to draw it out into the open. (He jumps at the chance to stay anonymous and asked me to leave his name out of this post.) Basically what he did was create a bunch of tools for searching through the documents of various open-access, public locales — like the Library of Congress, the Web Archive, and Wikipedia — and displaying them with varying levels of randomness.

A couple of my favorite tools inside the LOC Serendipity motor …

1) Strange old books

One of the search tools is for books: It’ll sift through the LOC’s scanned books, and display a rundown of them. (It’s a piece like my Strange Old Book Locater.)

Assuming you plug in a fairly basic search phrase — best to adhere to a couple of word searches, utilizing words that were reasonably normal before the twentieth hundred years — you can rapidly discover a few fascinating and screwy old books.

At the point when I connected “horse”, I got Present day Horseshoeing: A Practical Work on the Shoeing of Ponies, as well as An Examination of the Pee of the Pony and Man (!), G. K. Chesterson’s sonnet The Ballad of the White Pony, and At the Indication of the Side interest Pony, a romping assortment of cultural essays by Elizabeth Bisland, including a clever savaging of 1900-era mediums and seances.

And, the illustrations! One of my favorite parts of glancing through books distributed in the early twentieth hundred years and before are the illustrations, which are in many cases ornate and spectacular. One of the pony books I hit upon was An infallible manual for find the age of ponies — which was a really important task, considering that ponies back then, at that point, were a massive capital consumption and liable to bite the dust on you soon in the event that you accidentally purchased an old one.

The illustrations of pony’s teeth are really amazing, similar to these …

2) Old vinyl music

Another magnificent part of LOC Serendipity is the music page — which plays random tunes from the Web Archive’s digitization of 78-RPM records.

It’s dead basic: You hit the “play” button, and it starts playing a random melody. On the off chance that you could do without it, hit “skip” and it’ll pick another one.

It shows you the immediate Archive interface for the melody as of now being played, so on the off chance that you like it, you can save the connection or download the record.

I had a blast streaming this in the background while I worked a day or two ago. It careened from one type to another — in some cases playing outdated bluegrass banjo-destroying (like this 1926 recording of “Whoop Them Up, Cindy”), different times huge band (a 1934 Tommy Dorsey recording of “Heat Wave”), then, at that point, material from outside the western canon (like “Yarn — Anoosh” by Jimmy Vosbikian), and a portion of those unsettlingly jaunty goodness hai-there-I’m-set for battle in-the-war melodies (like “Any Old Place The Gang Goes (I’ll Be There)”).

I like the fact that you have zero power over what melody plays; I’m a major fan of randomness for rewilding one’s attention!

3) Old radio dramas

My other favorite tool in LOC Serendipity is this one — which plays a random radio show from the Web Archive. Similar as the music-playing app, you recently hit “play” and it picks one; in the event that you like it, there’s a URL to save it, and assuming you think that it is wearing hit out “skip” to go to the following one.

These can fiercely absorb. Whenever I first hit “play” I was given “Peace Mediator”, a radio drama re-enacting the narrative of Ralph Bunche, a Black political researcher and UN diplomat who won the 1950 Nobel Prize for his part in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. Then, at that point, I got “The Place of Fear”, an episode of the radio secret drama series “The Whistler”. (I just cannot get enough of the oooooh-scary horn-and-strings stabs and ululating organ in those old radio secrets.) Then, at that point, it was on to “To Reside Again”, a romance drama: “This evening we welcome you to the wild mountains of Portugal, where two darlings welcome fear and death to achieve their opportunity.”)

(Presently I’m considering doing a hardware-hacking project, where I take an old 1940s-era radio and replace the guts with a raspberry pi that interfaces with this feed; when you turn the radio on, it starts playing a random old radio drama.)

Anyway, there’s another tool for rewilding your attention, and carrying you into the unusual corners of the Web.

(Partaken in this post? Then see the “clap” button and its eldritch mystery: It was intended to handle up to 50 claps … per reader!)

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