David Weinberger’s Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder deals with the difference between organizing things made of atoms, and things made of zeroes and ones.
The book is fluidly written, very clear, and uses a lot of examples, such as library classification systems, taxonomies of species, and retail stores, to illustrate the “old” way of organizing knowledge, then contrasts it with the “new” ways such as Flickr’s user tags and Amazon’s clustering of items based on the purchase habits of other shoppers.
The examples make a lot of sense, and do a good job of highlighting the differences between the old and new ways of classifying items, and this putting things into focus makes the book worthwhile even for people who have been spending a lot of time online.
Everything is Miscellaneous is an enjoyable, breezy read, but sometimes becomes a bit mired in San Francisco techno-utopia thinking. It’s also the kind of book that could—and perhaps should—be trimmed down to magazine-article-size without losing much of what makes it special.
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