Archive for August, 2014

Everything is miscellanous: the power of the new digital disorder by David Weinberger

Monday, August 25th, 2014

This title is a fascinating look at the world and how humans attempt to organize it. According to Weinberger , “In the past, everything has its one place – the physical world demanded it – but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Suddenly, everything is miscellaneous.” The author describes the ways in which “digital disorder” is changing how many of us live – impacting work, play, education, and social interactions. “The digital world…allows us to transcend the most fundamental rule of ordering the real world: Instead of everything having its place, it’s better if things can get assigned multiple places simultaneously.” The book begins with a visit to a Staple’s mock store where products are carefully organized to provide optimized sales in the real stores. The book ends with a visit to a local store located in the same place since the 1920s that is the epitome of disorganization. In between are a wide-ranging selection of topics and types of organization: Dewey Decimal Classification, Linnaeus’s classification of nature, BBC, iTunes playlists, the Bettmann Archive of photographs, Google Earth, and tags, among many others. I thought this book was very readable. Even the notes were intriguing and led me from one idea to another – much the way the book describes the third order of order. I would recommend this popular science book to anyone who is interested in the power and usefulness of miscellany.