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Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of…

Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (original 2007; edition 2007)

by David Weinberger

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2,135605,084 (3.86)61
Philosopher Weinberger shows how the digital revolution is radically changing the way we make sense of our lives. Human beings constantly collect, label, and organize data--but today, the shift from the physical to the digital is mixing, burning, and ripping our lives apart. In the past, everything had its one place--the physical world demanded it--but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Everything is suddenly miscellaneous. Weinberger charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture. He examines how Rand McNally decides what information not to include in a physical map (and why Google Earth is winning that battle), how Staples stores emulate online shopping to increase sales, why your children's teachers will stop having them memorize facts, and how the shift to digital music stands as the model for the future.--From publisher description. From A to Z, Everything Is Miscellaneous will completely reshape the way you think - and what you know - about the world. Includes information on alphabetical order, Amaxon.com, animals, Aristotle, authority, Bettmann Archive, blogs (weblogs), books, broadcasting, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), business, card catalog, categories and categorization, clusters, companies, Colon Classification, conversation, Melvil Dewey, Dewey Decimal Classification system, Encyclopaedia Britannica, encyclopedia, essentialism, experts, faceted classification system, first order of order, Flickr.com, Google, Great Books of the Western World, ancient Greeks, health and medical information, identifiers, index, inventory tracking, knowledge, labels, leaf and leaves, libraries, Library of Congress, links, Carolus Linnaeus, lumping and splitting, maps and mapping, marketing, meaning, metadata, multiple listing services (MLS), names of people, neutrality or neutral point of view, New York Public Library, Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), order and organization, people, physical space, everything having place, Plato, race, S.R. Ranganathan, Eleanor Rosch, Joshua Schacter, science, second order of order, simplicity, social constructivism, social knowledge, social networks, sorting, species, standardization, tags, taxonomies, third order of roder, topical categorization, tree, Uniform Product Code (UPC), users, Jimmy Wales, web, Wikipedia, etc.… (more)
Title:Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
Authors:David Weinberger
Info:Times Books (2007), Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:tagging, classification, categories, categorization

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Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger (2007)

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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
Excellent introduction to classification systems, with a lot of anecdotes and examples. Weinbergers main point is that while classification systems for physical objects can have only one order, computer organized classification systems can have endless different orders and subsets. So there is no need to impose the limitations of physical classification systems onto the digital domain.

Weinberger's presetation of the book at GoogleTalks in 2007 will give you an excellent condesed explanation of the book (in 1 hour), but the book is so vivid that I recommend both the talk and the book.

Must read for all (wannabe) librarians and people who organize information on the web. ( )
  haraldgroven | Sep 8, 2019 |
I read the first half and liked it pretty well. The second half seemed more of the same. I found the argument about how we organize information hierarchically when we no longer need to interesting. However, as many others commented, he is very out of touch with libraries and how we approach searches these days. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
Fascinating. I've been using tagging more and more - here on LibraryThing, in Evernote, etc - but I hadn't really thought about the underlying meanings. Weinberger did, and lays them out nicely - first-order arranging actual things (books on a shelf), second-order arranging references (card catalog), third-order tags which are not arranged, just randomly scattered about - but can be organized immediately into whatever order the individual wants at the moment (all the books by X about Y, all the books tagged SF (for the various possible meanings of SF)...). One interesting facet is that he was writing in 2007, and forecast some things ten years ahead...to now. He got most of them wrong, of course (There won't be much editing left to do on Wikipedia, just polishing...), but it's a fascinating look at how he saw things. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Aug 25, 2017 |
The author is an interesting man: he's a marketing consultant with a Ph.D. in philosophy who works at the Harvard Law School and advised Howard Dean's brief run for president. His book *The Cluetrain Manifesto* was memorably influential in 2001. He writes engagingly, informally, and clearly. Unfortunately, this book consists of ten chapters all saying the same thing: that we have moved past the age of classifying information in hierarchies and one-to-one relationships, and moved into the world of tagging and metadata. That's it. Each chapter simply explores this simple message from a slightly different angle.

Frankly, and with no arrogance meant, I knew this already, and find most of its implications obvious. (News flashes: the Dewey Decimal System is out of date [chapter 3]. Wikis, especially Wikipedia, are effective repositories of knowledge [chapter 7]. Classifying things too restrictively is counterproductive [chapter 9].) So I did not find the book a "mind-opener" (BuzzMachine.com), it did not make a "profound contribution" to my understanding of "the impact of the digital revolution" (BBC Global News), and despite what Esther Dyson says, I will indeed look at a humble bookshelf or store shelf the same way again.

Some of this is not the author's fault as much as it is the passage of time: it's 2015, and the book was written in 2007. Still, enough had happened by 2007 to make Scott Rosenberg of Salon.com's comment that the book shows "the benefits of moving from paper to bits" seem strangely out of time.

For those who haven't yet got the message, this could be a useful book. For example, I want to send this passage to the leaders of the heavily siloed organization that signs my paychecks: "Thinking that people's skills are defined by the department they're in wastes their talent. (It also means that companies frequently start corporate blogs with the least interesting people—the marketers—as their initial bloggers.) [A business] should scribble over the lines of division with lines of connection. Every line that's drawn ought to be systematically smudged....Everything belongs in more than one place, at least a little bit." ( )
  john.cooper | Feb 17, 2015 |
Not a flawless book, but definitely an important book. I've been using it for 3 semesters to teach a class on information architecture and research methods and I've yet to find a more recent alternative that addresses what it means to organize and find information in today's context more clearly and practically. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
"Anyone who has ever seen a computer program will know how much work is involved in creating the modules and functions through which the ordering is accomplished and this is the real big story: not that 'everything is miscellaneous', which is a pretty trite observation, but that disorder can be managed by software."
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