I love this phrase “coaxing serendipity” as a way to describe the process that results when a loosely structured informal social environment of like minded people occurs. I’ve experienced this kind of serendipity in my own learning as a result of the loose connections I make using social networks.
I don’t think these informal salons are something that are necessarily exclusive to the domain of artists or cultural creatives, but rather any type of CoP or NoP where a common practice occurs. Same thing with the tip on making it ridiculous – not something I think is crucial, but I agree that loose and fun will win out at the end of the day.
The establishment of informal “salons” or “circles” of artists or cultural creatives dates back to the Ancient Greeks and is a common feature of several touchstone cultural movements from impressionism to abstract expressionism to beat poetry. The free-flowing exchange of ideas in a social setting serves to encourage deeper thinking, challenge assumptions, and expand resources – crucial aspects of any creative career.
Furthermore, a consistent regular forum for discussion acts as a method to “coax serendipity” or encourage chance overlaps that lead to something exceptional: an idea that turns into a novel, the mention of a name that turns into a mentor, an acquaintance that becomes a star client.