on 6 November 2009
... Well ok, maybe not chaos - the central idea is that ordinary people, unleashed at random on the world, tagging whatever they want, however they want to do it, are the most powerful organisational force on the internet. In fact, they're the only force that comes close. Google runs off people's links, Flickr relies on tags and favourites; Yahoo shut down it's indexing program long ago, Weinberger argues, and in it's place, we've got something far more wide-ranging and useful.
I'm studying to become an information professional ("librarian" to everyone else) and a couple of my lecturers mentioned this title; they seemed to find his occasional references to traditional card catalogues infuriating, as if he was accusing librarians of advocating them and clinging to the past (and no librarian anywhere misses card catalogues), but I think he tells a great story about how the internet has reformed itself into the strangely effective mess we skim through so easily every day.
The book could do with more of his thoughts on what's going to happen next - Weinberger seems content with telling us the back-story, and doesn't attempt to make any predictions about the future development of the internet. Then again, given the nature of the beast, that's probably the wise. A fascinating book that seeks to explain how the internet got like this and how it works.
on 15 May 2008
This book is really nice as a primer and fresh-up on how information is organized and what it means to us. It explains old organization methods, like the one the libraries use and the organization of organisms that was introduced by Linnaeus. It then compares those 'atom based' organization methods with the new ones we can perform with digital means. Of course Amazon is mentioned where everybody has basically his or her own version of a bookstore.
Worth reading if you are interested in taxonomies, ontologies, information organization and categorization.
on 9 August 2007
I got this book because I saw on a friend's blog she was reading it.
It is a great book and I have started citing things from it, for a while I was referring to it as the "book on tagging" but it is much more than that, it talks about the way information is organised and the problems such organisation brings with it.
The final words are:
"The world won't stay miscellaneous because we are together making it ours".
I have one gripe with the book it is written from an American point of view and assumes that the reader is also American. For example near the beginning it talks of "the Civil War", now lots of countries have had such strife, England had one back in the 1600s, Spain had one in the 1930s, and there are many others.
Not with standing that I do recommend reading it if you have any interest in information and how it is ordered.
on 20 July 2008
So we have a book that is on the face of it about a very offputting subject - the labels that we put on things. But by the time you have finished reading this tour around the world as we live it - and as we are about to live it, we realise just how important those labels really are.
Have you ever thought about how a Staples organises itself? Have you ever thought about where we are going with all these data that we collect about the world? And have you ever wondered how a shopkeeper who owns a store that is apparently complete chaos has gone about sorting everything out?
The thing with David Weinberger is that he really knows how to write. These are well chosen examples that have you turning page after page and then thinking about what you have learned for months or even possibly years to come. Put simply, Weinberger knows how to write. One dreads to imagine how a book on this topic might have turned out under the pen of a less gifted author...
Let's just say that if you thought about reading The Long Tail, then you definitely should - but you should read Everything Is Miscellaneous first!
on 26 December 2011
Amazing analysis of how we have been trying to organize the world's information, for centuries, looking for a universal formula, particularly in the context of libraries.
The question is: is it possible to apply a universal formula without limiting the knowledge or should we let each individual create their own systems of organization according to their needs?
Weinberger describes how an organization of a 3rd order in a digital world, without the limitations of the physical world and therefore where each item can be in multiple places at same the time, may become more usable for each user, and expand the knowledge of each one.
on 4 September 2009
More than ever, knowledge is power, and as computerization and digitalization reshape society, the way knowledge is organized dictates how people obtain it and apply it. In this fascinating book, philosophy professor David Weinberger chronicles the history of changes in access to knowledge. He shows how Internet-based enterprises such as iTunes and Wikipedia reflect new rules of knowledge organization. This intellectually provocative and well-researched book explains the true impact of the information revolution. The only thing missing from this original, incisive and entertaining workbook is a glossary. While some readers may need other sources of information for certain technical definitions, getAbstract considers this book a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how the knowledge revolution has reshaped business and society.
on 11 January 2010
Reading a book on categorisation and classification? Don't tell you friends, if you have any, in my case I have now be labelled under Boring...
A very good book and quite readable given the subject matter. You will learn more about classifying and the shortcomings thereof than you will have learnt in your life (unless you are already an expert.) Excellent stuff and the only reason it doesn't have 5 stars is that Weinberger doesn't cover those items which are fixed within a particular organisation such as a 'sales order' or 'terms and conditions'. Sometimes things are simpler than he says!