Manufacturing Serendipity: Introduction

If the trajectory of any one of my talks spurred me to compile this book, it was this talk, first given for the Coalition of Networked Information symposium in fall 2011. After I delivered it for the second time for the e-Science Symposium near Boston in spring 2012, Regina Raboin and Rebecca C. Reznik-Zellen asked me to write it up as part of a combined case study, later published in the Journal of e-Science Librarianship.

To this day I can’t stand to read my own part of that article. During the peer review and editing process, I was bluntly told to brighten up the negative tone of my commentary and predictions. If I had been sole author, I would have dug in my heels for a fight—it wouldn’t have been the first fight I’ve had with an editor—or withdrawn the manuscript and tried to find another journal less given to censoring direct author experience. Rather than inconvenience my co-authors, however, I grumbled under my breath and complied.

The reality of Research Data Services while I was a part of it was always darker, less optimistic, less clear, less secure than that article portrays. My talk was and is far closer to my sense of the truth of the matter. I apologize to any readers of that article who felt disheartened at not measuring up to Research Data Services, or who imitated it and did not succeed. I didn’t succeed either, and I am sorry that I let myself be convinced to mislead you on that score.