Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

20 October 2010

Serendipitous revisiting

Clark @ 8:21 AM

In many ways, it can seem like we revisit the same old ideas again and again.  I’ve ranged over design, social, games, mobile, strategy and more in many different ways.  I try to write when there are new ideas, but many times the same themes are reviewed, albeit extended.  This might seem tiresome (more so, perhaps, to me than you :), but there’s value in it.

I’ve talked previously about explorability.  As I mentioned, I heard the concept while doing a summer internship, and was excited by it.  The other part is that I brought it back to our research lab (focused on interface design at the time), and the reaction was essentially nil. Fast-forward a couple of years, and when discussing some nuance of usability (perhaps affordances), I raised it again, to wide excitement!  What had changed?

The lesson I learned is that not only do you need the right idea, but you also need the right context.  I find that matters I talked about years ago will be just right for someone now.  So the work I did laying out the appropriate elements for game design in 1998 were appropriate for a book in 2005.  I talked about learning games from about 2002 on, and finally it went from ’emerging technologies’ to mainstream in the program track around 2008.  I’ve been talking about mobile since 2000, and finally have a book coming out in January. I wonder when mlearning will cross the chasm.

So the point is that you have to keep putting ideas out there, again and again, to find the right time for them to take hold.  Not like advertising, but like offerings.  It’s not planned, it’s just at the idea strikes, but I reckon that’s a better heuristic than a more calculated algorithm. At least, if you are trying to inspire positive change, and I confess that I am.


  1. This seems to be the theme of the moment. I’ve been reading Steven B. Johnson’s book, “Where Good Ideas Come From” and the notion seems to be the same: you can have the best idea in the world, but the universe needs to bless it for it to come into fruition.

    We’re in an Age of Convergence, and while we’re awash in a sea of information, we’re going to start grabbing onto all sorts of ideas from our past to keep us afloat, lash them together in new and emerging contexts to make our rafts and float on to whatever comes next.

    Comment by Aaron — 20 October 2010 @ 8:33 AM

  2. […] @hjarche @davecormier The textbook is the opposite of messiness: http://bit.ly/bGgwpFQuinnovator: Latest Learnlet: Serendipitous revisiting: http://blog.learnlets.com/?p=1756hjarche: New Era of Workplace Learning http://is.gd/g8R5t social learning is something you […]

    Pingback by Harold Jarche » “The Internet is a serendipity creation machine” — 22 October 2010 @ 1:12 AM

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