It’s Friday, which means it’s time for the unveiling of the Official Rough Type Sentence of the Week. This one comes from Steven Johnson, and it appears at the end of a vertiginous post about mental hyperlinking:
“People who think the Web is killing off serendipity are not using it correctly.”
Now, first of all, I hadn’t even realized that there was a correct way to use the Web. I wish someone had explained this to me years ago, because I’m sure it would have saved me all sorts of time.
But what really drew me to Johnson’s line was the way that it immediately conjured up in my mind this vision of a scene that looked like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. There’s this big, windowless room, and sprawling across it is a vast, elaborate steampunk contraption. It’s got all sorts of pipes and pulleys and gears and bellows, and it’s belching smoke and making loud metallic noises, and there’s a sign hanging from it that reads: Serendipity Machine. A guy is running madly around it yanking levers and pulling out stops and pushing buttons and fiddling with dials. Behind him, observing, is an old man in a white lab coat, a scientist, obviously. He’s stooped over, a grim expression on his face. The guy operating the machine suddenly stops, turns, and, exhausted, exclaims, “I can’t get any serendipity out of this damn thing!” To which the old scientist, wagging a crooked finger, responds, in a deep Austrian accent, “You are not using it correctly!”