Finding Nifty Stuff in Unexpected Places

Serendipity is a kind of creative observation, says Pagan Kennedy, author of a forthcoming book called Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change The World. You find something you don’t know you’re looking for by paying close attention to the world and remaining alert to surprise. The journalistic term for this is “gathering string” – “the first stage of reporting, when you’re looking for something that you can’t yet name. … ‘string’ is the stuff that accumulates in a journalist’s pocket. It’s the note you jot down in your car after the interview, the knickknack you notice on someone’s shelf, or the anomaly that jumps out at you in Appendix B of an otherwise boring research study.”


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