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Engineering Serendipity with Kris Krug

Kris Krug is a photographer extraordinaire, social media documentarian, and global nomad who splits time between Vancouver, nearby Galiano Island, and the rest of the world. He was most recently in the South Pacific, documenting videographer Chris Jordan’s film on plastic pollution in the oceans, Midway. We met up on one of the rare days when KK is actually in Vancouver, and had a conversation about life on the web and life on the road, and how he connects with interesting people and projects wherever he goes.

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I was interested in his perspective as input to my projects RedRovr — a site for fans to request artists, speakers, and performers to come to their city — and 99speakers, a site for finding and booking long tail speakers. But the more we spoke, the more universal his advice seemed.

I’ve condensed our conversation into four principles from Kris Krug for “engineering serendipity” in your life and work — a guide to stacking the odds of good luck in your favor.

1. Send out a signal

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KK makes a living documenting others with his photography, but he is also a pro at documenting his own life, activities, and work. He attributes this near-constant stream of tweets, location updates, blog posts, and photos with landing photography gigs, meeting up with friends old and new, receiving referrals from friends orienting him to opportunities or people in the area. KK lives more online than most people, but the principle remains — you need to communicate about what you are up to and interested in in order to be found.

2. Scan the horizon

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KK doesn’t just send out his own signal, but makes sure to maintain an awareness of what people in his orbit are up to — “persistent scanning of infinite noise.” This scanning is an opportunity for pattern recognition — whether that is seeing an emergent idea, person, or thing, or noticing that different people are looking for or talking about complementary things.

3. Reach out to people

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The flip side of scanning is actually acting on the patterns you see — reaching out to people you know as well as people you don’t — someone who is visiting your city, connecting people who don’t know each other, amplifying someone’s call for assistance, etc. KK is nonstop with this, which is a key ingredient to his success.

4. Give more than you take

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This principle underlies all the others — giving more than you take from any given situation. KK talks about going camping as a kid, where his dad would advise them to leave the campsite better than they had found it, whether tidying up a tent site or replacing a rock in a fire ring. KK extends this idea to relationships and projects, and tries to use any media attention or time he has in the spotlight to shine light on other folks doing great work. Beyond specific actions, it’s an attitude he tries to bring into all his interactions.

Despite all this advice, serendipity remains largely resistant to our efforts to engineer it — this is one of the qualities of serendipity. However, some have said good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity — and Kris Krug’s four principles are an excellent way of making sure you are prepared.

Thanks KK for a great conversation.

Shipwreck in LA

LA gallery and event space Machine Project is the site of a shipwrecked vessel, the Sea Nymph — at least until October 8. They are hosting a month of nautical-themed events. Love this.

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Canadian Comics

Hark! A Vagrant. Very entertaining webcomic. Currently a bit more Canada-focused than usual, following the Olympic hockey gold.

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via my bro

Personal Biosphere

“Personal biospheres” by Seattle artist Vaughn Bell.

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So great – I need one of these for my living room. Or better yet: a cafe filled with multi-person versions.

via A New F*cking Wilderness

Architecture Art

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

A gorgeous, meditative tour through imagined spaces and structures. What struck me most was not that it was full-CG — which, yes, is amazing — but that here, at the beginning of 2010, an immersive virtual world like this can be produced by ONE GUY.

Big-Head Mode IRL

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Vancouver artist Eric Testreote:

I made this as my costume for Halloween 2009. It was kind of inspired by big-head mode seen in videogames. I really wanted to get the faceted geosphere look with wireframe.

How great is this? So disorienting. Someone please start a make-your-own-big-head (MYOBH) business. I will be your first customer.

via BERG. Yes, I had to go all the way to London in my RSS reader to discover this fellow Vancouver resident.

Roden Crater

Still want to go on a road trip here.

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James Turrell, Roden Crater, Arizona

“Situated near the Grand Canyon and Arizona’s Painted Desert is Roden Crater, an extinct volcano the artist has been transforming into a celestial observatory for the past thirty years. Working with cosmological phenomena that have interested man since the dawn of civilization and have prompted responses such as Stonehenge and the Mayan calendar, Turrell’s crater brings the heavens down to earth, linking the actions of people with the movements of planets and distant galaxies.”

COMBO: More timelapse graffiti from Blu

Wow, the MUTO guys are at it again. What a great art form. I would love to know how they work…how they choose a site and how much of the unfolding story is planned in advance. Or maybe I just want to watch, mesmerized.

via @robinsloan

Pop. Art.

Two great things:

NYC mural by Brazilian brothers Os Gemeos. Need more of this.

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Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” reminds us how great a music video can be.

Stunningly creative graffiti animation


MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

(via Wooster Collective, and as seen on re:think 2.0)

© 2017 chris coldewey

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