The WWW Cabinet of Curiosities: A Serendipitous Research Tool

Josie Arnold


This paper proposes that the WWW is able to be fruitfully understood as a research tool when we utilise the
metaphor of the cabinet of curiosities, the wunderkammer. It unpeels some of the research attributes of the
metaphor as it reveals the multiplicity of connectivity on the web that provides serendipitous interactions
between unexpected materials thus bringing new ways of thinking about a given research topic.It explores how
the singular research journeys may express themselves so differently that they find a comfortable space for a
definition only within an academic cabinet of curiosities. Yet these differences are also made available through
utilising an academic search engine in the WWW because it doesn’t literally obey the instruction you have given
it. I give examples of methodologies and theories that I have found to be apposite for such serendipity. I show
that the narrative of the research journey is a significant contribution to knowledge through explicating a
subjective academic narrative in an auto-ethnographic methodological framework.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)


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