I have a thing for web serendipity and following tunnels to places not on my to do list. Hopefully it’s not curable.

It happens without foreshadowing. Today I saw a Mastodon post from a favorite tech writer

I remember Clive Thompson specifically vividly for a 2007 piece Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense ($wall link, suggest opening in Incognito window if you’ve burned your monthly Wired peek). I picked up and shared often in talks the concept he described as “social proprioception” that made what Twitter sensible/exciting, at least long ago in the BM (Before He Who Shall Remain Nameless) era.

The thing I always notice about Thompson was how actively responded in Twitter and now Mastodon to comments and questions from little fish like me.

I blogged off track there. Anyhow, I remember when he posted about his Weird Old Book Finder – it takes a text query (not a prompt!) and returns a link and readable semi-randomly chosen title from public domain sources — read Clive’s explanation, it far surpasses mine.

It’s one of those ideas I seriously doubt some random regurgitator of existing web stuff would come up with. And on top of that, it runs in one of my favorite web spawning interactive gizmos that no one in education seems to mention, Glitch.

I’d like to help out on a request like Clive posted today.

Okay, I remember seeing the Weird Old Book Finder and am sure I played with it (likely searching on dog). I knew I made a DS106 Daily Create out of it and that was easy to share some examples for him. Fortunately this daily create was dome before the Twitter API was annihilated, so there were a good number of responses saved from the days when we could harvest responses.

I thought to myself, Shirley I had blogged about it. I plopped in Weird Book Finder into my own blog search (because 5500 posts in I have forgotten 90% of them)– and got only 1 result that must have had those three words in it, but in no way relevant to what I was looking for.

But then I had my own self delight in big curious abou my own blogged past (I am full of myself, eh).

This was part of a project I loved dearly, somewhat because I was given free reign by BCcampus (or at least Clint Lalonde who hired me) with the H5P/Pressbooks Kitchen to make full use of a metaphor.

I went full down in the post on my long use of metaphors- An open town square, a syndication bus (technically Jim Groom made the metaphor I just rode it a long way), a suitcase, a warehouse, a movie studio.

I love metaphors.

But the question in the post, that never got answered by me or anyone else, is/was- What is the metaphor for a metaphor? And given I have semi-regular contact with the Chief Book Authoring Expertise on Metaphors, I am wondering if I can get Martin Weller in on this. Maybe a ping on one of his many blog posts? A jab via Mastodon? Maybe I can ask my dog Felix to get a message through Martin’s dog Telio.

This happens to me ofen when I search my own blog, I find things I forgot I did or wrote about. In some ways, I enjoy having a big box of stuff that reveals surprises rather than a carefully organized manifest on a tidy clipboard

And it happens too mare largely when I search the web, I get results that have little to do with what I was looking for, but my curiosity gets piqued. This seems opposite to the dreams of AI, all that promot engineering is aimed at refining results o be exactly what I asked for (or some statistical approximation of what i ought to be).

Where is he serendipity then? The magic of a raised eyebrow of curiosity? I’d guess the AI Champions would ell me how to create some prompt scenario designed to spit back stuff that is marginally relevant, or a statistical approximation of serendipity, phrased in that smug and over confident voice it gravitates toward (unless you have a MotBot in hand).

Or like Jeremy Kahn interjected to the Mastodon back and forth with Clive Thompson that started this distraction of mine:

Sign me up for spicy jambalaya any day.

And speaking of metaphors, help me ping Martin Weller with the challenge of answering,”What is the metaphor for a metaphor?”

The closest I go from the post tha surfaced today was something like a photograph of a shadow puppet.

Cori and I had a great discussion about metaphor, and we tried to find what is a metaphor for a metaphor. It has a bit of Inception going on, recurring on itself.

There was no googling or then we’d end up with stuff like

a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.

We liked the idea of a symbol that represents something else. The idea of shadow puppets resonated. And then to make it have that second layer, what about the representation of a representation as a photograph of a shadow puppet! All of which are not the real object at all.

Anyhow, it led me to make this mashup:

Combination of Pingio image of the camera viewfinder (“Free for personal use”) overlain atop a cropped portion of Hand Shadows I (7356719426).jpg a Wikimedia Commons public domain image

Shirley someone can do better! Shirley? Shirley?

Featured Image: Little Surprise flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license (now I know this flower unknown at the time is a Cosmo) (If I am wrong someone will say so, right?)

Small purple flower with yellow center is dwarfed by thick green leaves from an iris
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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Ping received!
    What is the metaphor of a metaphor? Hmmm, not sure. It might depend on how intentional you are being with your metaphor. Sometimes they are accidental, a by-product of something else. Like you’re making a cake and pouring the ingredients down the drain fixes a leaking pipe. If you’re being more intentional and seeking a metaphor, then maybe it’s like looking at stars in the periphery of your vision because they are clearer then – you have to come at stuff from a different angle to get clarity.
    Any good? It’s Monday morning, so go easy on me

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