I had explained the etymology of the title and where the seagazing ostriches come from, but that still left the mistery of how I chose the title. So here is an explanation.

In their 1997 article “Browsing is a collaborative process” Twidale, Nicols and Paice coined the term “serendipitous altruism” to describe a willingness among online database searchers to assist one another whether or not they were directly responsible for the search outcome or had a direct interest in each other’s performance. In each case, the users acted as information conduits and filters on behalf of their respective audiences.

This paper had a significant influence on me at that time when I was employed at France Telecom to research cooperation issues in collaborative systems. The meme did not spread very widely, so I appropriated it as a slightly obscure yet meaningful blog title !