Everything is Miscellaneous

Everything is MiscellaneousEverything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, by David Weinberger, is a book about how we identify and organize information in the digital realm. It draws contrasts to methods previously used for hundreds and thousands of years in the physical world, before the advent of digital technologies.

From card catalogs, as drawers filled with index cards, to television channels, confined to radio frequencies, physical limitations have determined how we organize knowledge and information. A book is typically filed under two or three subjects, even though it may touch on a wide range of topics. An episode airs on a certain channel, at a certain time, regardless of when is convenient for the viewer.

The digital world breaks free from these restrictions, allowing information to be accessed instantly, and categorized in any number of ways. This unlimited ability to add metadata, information about information, yields the books title and allows everything to become miscellaneous. As Weinberger paradoxically notes:

The solution to the overabundance of information is more information.

The key to harnessing this power is being able to uniquely identify an object. On the world wide web, a URL serves this purpose. The URL of this blog post is in your browser’s address bar right now. This post, in turn, links to the book’s URL on Amazon.com. These links form connections, which can be indexed and searched, adding metadata to the global database that is the Internet.

Everything is Miscellaneous sites examples of popular sites, including Flickr and del.icio.us, which allow tags (more metadata) to be applied to photos and bookmarks. As more people utilize these tools, social patterns emerge, adding additional relations that can be analyzed. This cycle builds upon itself, making it easier to find the information you are after.

As someone who is already immersed in the digital disorder, Everything is Miscellaneous reinforced concepts I’m already familiar with. For anyone who is curious or unconvinced about these technologies, the book would serve as a good overview.

Comments

Lonna Hanson
says:
February 2, 2008 at 3:35 PM

Very interesting Jared. Glad that you enjoyed the book. The organization of information is the only way it can be useable. I totally agree with your comments. See you tomorrow.
Mom

David Weinberger
says:
February 2, 2008 at 5:53 PM

Jared, nice overview. Thanks. And, Lonna, I’m glad, too, that he enjoyed the book :)

– David Weinberger

Jared Hanson
says:
February 2, 2008 at 6:41 PM

Wow! A comment from the author, within hours of publishing the post! A testament to the power of the miscellaneous.

Thank you for the book. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

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