Forgot the semantic web, I have bumped into (again) the serendipitic web, the place you find things not be slick relationships, but just blind, frivolous stumbling.

My RSS feed pile led me to James Farmer’s pleased post of stumbling Google into what he liked as a definition of RSS. While James got there my a search on “RSS definition”. I nudged him to go a bit father into Google’s dictionary using the search string define:RSS, which leads to definitions also for Rural Stewardship Scheme, Rastriya Seva Sangh, and even Radio Science Subsystem.

But a wondering led me to see how Google would “define” my friend Biff, or a search on define:Biff. Woah, of course to “Biff” is to crash a mountain bike or “to take a foil; also known as soil sampling”.

But a strange definition, “When a thrown Tomahawk does not stick in the Target Face” got me into a site devoted to “a new twist on an old art”, apparently throwing a small axe at a wall. Now in these circles, a “Biff” is what happens when your styling throw ends up not sticking to the wall– and there is even a linked video clip so you can see a real Biff!

Again, the web proves that there is a place for everything you could imagine and then a whole lot more. I would have never gleaned this knowledge by direct keyword research– it is only the picking and poking around of curious human eyes that opened my naive eyes to the cult of tomahawk tosssing.

Yup, the serendiptic web. Let’s write a research paper.

The post "The Serendipitic Web: Google Defines to Biff to A Fallen Tomahwak" was originally pulled from under moldy cheese at the back of the fridge at CogDogBlog ( on March 25, 2004.


  • Stephen Downes

    I have been receiving reports about the Rastriya Seva Sangh ever since I set up my RSS Google alert. Though mostly the items have been not that useful, I have used a few in my other site, NewsTrolls.

    Even more interesting was another topic, which was introduced to me a few months ago with the following headling: “Could have done more, captain of ship involved in collision agrees”. It was, of course, coverage of the inquiry following the RSS Courageous incident, the worst maritime disaster in Singapore history.

  • Found a nice flyer yesterday about BIFFF which in this case meant “Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films”. Thought you might like to know…

  • Alan Levine

    Awesome, BIff loves it, the BIFF Film festival!