“The world is messy, like it or not, and it’s only going to get messier as the Web destroys rules and rule-makers. You can either complain about the chaos and wish for the good old days of order, or you can buy this book and understand why delirious disorder will soon make us all smarter.” -- Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and author of The Long Tail
“David Weinberger attacks the complexity of the real world, not by
making it simple, but by making it clear. Once he explains how
thingscan be in more than one place at a time-and make sense-you’ll
never lookat a humble bookshelf or store shelf the same way again.”
″Everything Is Miscellaneous is a rare and mesmerizing mix: one the one
”From how information is organised, to the nature of knowledge and how
meaning is determined, this book is a profound contribution to
”Just when I thought I understood the world, David Weinberger turns it
Reviews, as they come in
EducationPR: My favorite line from it: “I haven't read a page-turner like this since the DaVinci Code.” (Apr. 15, ‘07)
BookList: Think about how
you organize your CD collection. Whether you’re quirky or meticulous,
once you pick a system, you’re pretty much stuck with it. But in the
digital world the laws of physics no longer apply. At iTunes you can
sort music by any number of criteria, including artist, genre, song
name, length, or price. The Internet itself is a hyperlinked web of
information that we cruise organically, often finding ourselves far
afield of where we started. Weinberger takes us on a journey through
the human constructs of classification, from alphabetization through
the Dewey decimal system, all necessary but limited approaches to
organization that seem antiquated in the digital age. At places like
Amazon.com and Wikipedia, an almost infinite ability to sort and
combine objects and ideas produces results that range from the
surprising to the ridiculous. This so-called third order mixes it all
up; it’s all about multiple connections and a realization that the
world is not as orderly as we thought. Weinberger presents a
thought-provoking and entertaining look at our rapidly evolving culture
of data. David Siegfried
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved
Ethan Zuckerman: “brilliant, must-read” [That’s not a selective excerpt. That’s what he says. And I’ll take it!]
Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing: [From the last paragraph:] “…every chapter in Everything is Miscellaneous brings new insight to the subject. This is a hell of a book“… an “instant classic.”
Karen Schneider at the American Library Association site: [The last paragraph:] “This is, I repeat, a dangerous book. Ban it, burn it, or take it to heart. The most dangerous part of this book is not that Weinberger says these things, and so much more: the danger comes if we don’t listen.”
Ethan Zuckerman’s full review: [Excerpt:] “It's questions like this that make "Everything is Miscellaneous" deceptively deep. One moment, we're thinking about how we organize photographs in shoeboxes or on our hard drives, and a moment later we're asking whether we understand "shoebox" in terms of definitions, family resemblances or exemplars. It's a little like drinking a mojito - smooth going down, but deceptively powerful, and slightly staggering when you get up to buy the next round.”
Peter Morville: [The opening:] “…David Weinberger’s mesmerizing new book about organization, authority, and knowledge. I received my advance copy last week and read it in a single day. I found it interesting and inspiring, and I recommend it highly. But, I don’t agree that everything is or will be or should be miscellaneous, and I don’t believe David is entirely fair to librarians, information architects, and other professional organizers.”
Bill Kosolosky: Bill gives it a substantial review. Here’s his last paragraph: “If you're getting your information more from the Web than the main stream media, as more of us are, you'll need to find how to gain the best experience, either for entertainment, self-edification, or strategies for competing with other businesses. David explains it in his latest book, not as an observer but as the Web’s most dedicated participant.”
Scoble: “A great read.”
Peter Merholz: “…it does not disappoint.” “…David's book isn't about information, it's about understanding, knowledge, and meaning -- fundamentally, it's a book on how the human condition is evolving.”
Susan Crawford: A lovely set of reflections on the book. A bit I like: “It's not so much that everything is miscellaneous but that nothing need be. Shards of information are forever being gathered online, creating individual "knowledge" that is revelatory. Weinberger finds music in the spaces between the notes, in the intersections and gaps and collections that make up online group-created knowledge.”
JP Rangaswami recommends the book and reflects on its personal meaning to him. “Anyone who is serious about the digital world would do well to read the book; anyone interested in information should read the book; anyone who is interesting in taxonomy and ontology must study the book.”
Betsy Devine thinks the book “does a fine job of whacking a much-needed path” into the confusion that is its topic. “It is full of ‘aha!’ moments that you'll start quoting to other people…” Betsy also has a picture of the book stuck into her kitchen miscellaneous drawer.
Dave Rogers writes his impressions based on reading a few sentences in a bookstore. interesting approach. He dislikes it, starting with the title.
Terry Heaton reviews it very favorably, especially in light of Terry’s interests in the media industry: “I believe this is one of the most important books of the new age, because it so rationally explains the seeming irrationality of the chaos when the audience takes part in the process of information retrieval. It’s also a pretty threatening book, if you make your living in the world of ordered information.”
Kermit Snelson writes about it in terms of identity and power.
Rob Paterson has a long review and consideration, focusing on the book’s themes of power and meaning…which are indeed at the heart of the book. (Also, he writes, “I tried to put it down but had to get up and read it until I had finished,” which makes me inordinately happy.)
Scott Rosenberg “highly recommends” the book as “a sophisticated, deep discussion.” While Scott thinks I make “a compelling theoretical case,” he thinks “in practice…a lot of this stuff remains out of reach…” (Scott’s review is on his blog. He posted it the same day that Salon posted his interview with me.)
Bernardo Parrella thinks it’s an “important” book but warns that “collective intelligence has its risks.” (In Italian.)
Donald Clark in a brief review says “READ this NOW.” “This is the deep root behind all of this web 2.0 stuff - the mess is the message.” Nice!
The Winnipeg Free Press in a review by Michael Stimpson thinks it’s a “good beach read for techno-geeks.” He thinks I make my “persuasively and for the most part engagingly with anecdotes and side trips to illustrate his points,” although he found the sections on alphabetization and on Eleanor Rosch to be “excruciatingly dull.”
Frank Paynter “love[s] this book.” “With Everything is Miscellaneous David Weinberger asserts himself as one of top pop epistemologists of all time, a visionary genius comparable perhaps only to ze Frank.” (I bow my head humbly to be in the same sentence as ze Frank.)
Mel the Accountability Bloke says “it was worth every spare moment I could devote to it,” and writes about the postmodernist theme in it. “I’d definitely put this on the must read list for anyone who wants to understand what the future holds for our major educational and economic institutions”
Larry Prusak reviews Everything is Miscellaneous for the Harvard Business Review. He thinks it makes “an interesting argument and Weinberger presents it well. The book is well-written, well-meaning, and filled with interesting and previously unknown facts…” But, he says, “It’s not perfect. I wish that he had elaborated on some of the points about knowledge.”
Strumpette (Amanda Chapel, which is a pseudonym) strongly recommends it, but only to get insight into how deluded Web optimists think. She thinks it’s wrong inside and out. (I don’t recognize much of the book in her recounting of it, which is a sign of the “disconnect” she talks about.)
Lion Huai Yu at WhiteNoise does a nice job summarizing the themes of the book, and applying them (in question form) to education. No evaluative terms are used in his discussion, but the seriousness and clarity of it certainly pleases me.
Jon Lebkowsky writes: “�…this is the most important book I've read in years, and one of the best at getting at what's really as we move online and digitize everything we know.” He accompanies it with what I can only hope is the worst photo of me ever.
Richard Pachter at the Miami Herald gives it a full review as a business book and decides it’s “imaginative, provocative and expansive.” [Feb '08: That review is gone, alas. Here is a second write-up by Mr. Pachter.
The Jules Says blog gives my book a thoughtful review. Plus, he uses words like
“fascinating” and “engaging.”
Simon Collister is almost done with it and thinks it’s important.
Harald Staun in the Frankfurter Allegemeine says “Weinbergers Thesen … welche tektonischen Verschiebungen auf der Landkarte des Wissen derzeit zu beobachten sind, sind dabei gar nicht so wahnsinnig originell, die Art aber, wie er die gegenwärtige Entwicklung zusammenfasst und wie er ihre Effekte auf die unterschiedlichsten Lebensbereiche skizziert, macht die Tragweite der Veränderungen so klar wie kaum eine Arbeit zuvor. �„Everything Is Miscellaneous" ist ein wissenschaftlicher page turner in der Tradition jener amerikanischen Sachbücher, die keine Angst haben, gelegentlich etwas banal zu klingen, weil sie die Relevanz ihrer Aussagen für den Alltag andeuten wollen.” And, he contines, “In diesem Fall ist dieser Zugang besonders wichtig…”
I think this means: Weinberger’s theses … about which tectonic shifts in the map of knowledge are currently to be observed are not so much insanely original as to be of the sort that — in how it outlines the current developments and how it sketches the effects on the most varied aspects of life — makes the consequences of the changes clearer than any work before. EiM is a scholarly page turner in the tra dition of the American non-fiction book that has no problem occasionally sounding banal because it wants to hint at the relevance to everyday life of what it says. In this case, this approach is especially important …” (Here is Google’s automatic translation.) Harald is skeptical, however, about the wisdom of the crowd.
AcademHack thinks it’s an ok book — good for an aiplane ride, but not scholarly enough.
Hans-Christoph Hobohm considers it at length (in German), finds it to be too American and hype-y, but also thinks it’s a “beautifully written, intelligent essay” that is “absolutely worth reading.”
Seamus McCauley looks at the book as an economist, focusing on what it has to say about the disintermediation of business (what I call “meta-business”). He thinks the book is “excellent.”
Erin McKean, the Editor in Chief of Oxford’s American Dictionaries, writes (quoted in full): “I’m right in the middle of David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous, which is terrifically smart and eerily prescient about where information is going (and how we’ll find it once we’ve caught up to it). As a lexicographer, I especially enjoyed his take on the evolution of alphabetical order … finally, someone gets it!”
Euan Semple writes a piece about whether we, the optimists, are crazy or is it that the naysayers are just full of neigh? It’s not really a review, so I don’t know if I should include it in this category (!), but I do want to recommend the piece. (Plus, Euan says: “I am only half way through David’s book but I have to say I am loving it…”)
Tom Wilson of Information Research doesn’t much like it. He thinks it jumps around and doesn’t have much to say that’s either new or worth saying. In a sober and long-ish review, he finds lots of faults in the argument and presentation. For example, he says that under the third order, there’s often second order work; he bets that at Corbis, there are indexers going through the photos, assigning terms from a thesaurus. In fact, I describe that very process at Corbis and talk about their thesaurus. So that criticism puzzles me. He also faults me for not noticing the computer systems that order the disorder: “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…” Again, I actually do talk about that (sort of), when describing the “messy” architecture of Web pages, down to which platter the bits are stored on (with the Wikipedia article on elephants as my example), but I do very much disagree that that’s the big story. The big story (I still believe) is way further up the stack: What does the computer-maintained disorder, and the computer-enabled ability to pluck orders from it, do to authority and meaning? In any case, it’s a thoughtful review. As for my writing style, there’s no defending it.
Andrew Whitis at library+instruction+technology is really, really annoyed that I use card catalogs as my main example of second order organization, as if libraries still use card catalogs. He’s not the only librarian who’s had that criticism. Fair enough. I should have acknowledged that libraries have generally moved off of paper catalogs. (Around 1970, I keyed in entries from the Bucknell library physical catalog, as part of one of the first projects to move catalogs onto computers.) But card catalogs are still one of the most familiar of second order examples around. And, by the way, most of the online catalogs I’ve seen — granting that I haven’t done a survey — mimic many of the limitations of paper.
Bill Sodeman, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University (tough gig, Bill!), says it’s “a mind-bending book about the modern Web, with serious implications for competitive strategy.”
Kes Sampanthar of Beyond Brainstorming writes: “If
you are at all interested in the history of information and how we as
humans have struggled to come to terms with the world, then this book
is one of the best I have come across. It is well written and a
pleasure to read.” He provides an extensive summary of the book, with
Christopher Maier writes, “when you come across a book that makes you look at everything a little longer and a little differently, you’ve found a rare and good thing.” He then applies the notion of the miscellaneous to the Human Genome Project.
Adam Gurri, the SophistPundit at George Mason U., is still peeved at the time spent in a course last summer having to worry about where to classify alligators. So he liked EiM: “…this book is a well-written and insightful analysis of human understanding. So read this book, it’s one of the good ones. I guarantee you’ll feel a little smarter afterwards.”
D. Murali at the Hindu Times has a lovely review that does an excellent saying what the book is about, and concludes “Powerful messages�… for those who care to hear.”
Nadeem Shabir a VirtualChaos concludes his review with “Everything Is Miscellaneous is a wonderful book and I thoroughly recommend it.” He says, “David makes a really compelling case for a new kind of information architecture that more faithfully represents the messy even chaotic nature of the real world. This messiness on the internet has a unique property - it can actually be used to make sense of the world.”
Jim McGee of McGee’s Musings finds the book “rich” and “thought-provoking” and thinks it tells its stories well, but it was a little too intro for an audience familiar with the topics.
Jeremiah Owyang has found ta great place not to be reading Everything is Miscellaneous. Yes, Jeremiah, you are “a real web geek.” But I’m glad you like the book.
Steven Leckart at Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools thinks it is a “hyper-intelligent journey.” “Whether you’re a skeptic or a steadfast believer in the great promise and possibility of the digital, these are ideas worth visiting. The “Social Knowing” chapter alone should be mandatory reading for all teachers.” Thanks!
Nordbo recommends the book, but hates the subtitle. At least it’s gotten him blogging again.
Kevin Donovan thinks “for those who are not comfortable discussing the implications of the semantic web or want a guide into the academic foundation of Web 2.0, EiM is worth your time and money,” although he himself found it too miscellaneous.
Stephen Cobb takes the book as an opportunity to reflect on the complexity of our lives. He likes the “cheerful” and “accessible” way it’s written.
DaveMonkey has only read the first few chapters but thinks “Weinberger has an incredibly engaging style and expalins things beautifully with skilful real world analogies.” Stop reading right there, DaveMonkey!
In a 4-part series, Mark Bower presents a useful chapter-by-chapter summary of Everything Is Miscellaneous. He says ” If you are an information architect or consultant working in the field of knowledge management then I would say you should have a copy on your bookshelf.” Here are his summary posts: Parts 1 2 3 4
David Lee King says: “It's a great read - one that I highly recommend to everyone who reads my blog. You might not agree with everything in the book, but I guarantee the book will make you think.”
Joe Wikert thinks I could have said it all in five pages.
Robert Jacobs, who teaches 6th grade (thank you, sir!), says: “This book is superb. It has kept me up a night thinking about the implications for education.” In part 2 he says it’s “superb,” and writes about how Edward De Bono’s thought anticipated it.
William Bakker at Wilhelmus writes: “I was looking forward to the release of his book. And I wasn’t disappointed. I expected a book about Information Architecture (a passion of mine) and library science, but it provided much more.”
Drew Nellins at Bookslut ends an enthusiastic review that digs into the book’s aims by saying, “Nothing I write here can communicate what an oddly fun, smart, and thought-provoking book Weinberger has written.”
Richard Cox at Reading Archives has a measured review of my book and Andrew Keen’s. He digs into mine, and although he thinks I sometimes overstate things, he concludes: “How can archivists, sitting on top of storehouses of documents, build meaning from them in our digital era? Weinberger, and others writing in this area and in this fashion, are provoking us to rethink what we do. Thanks.”
Alida Galvin has a terrific post about “pop management” books that includes mine, saying that “although the book is written at the level of Pop Management, its lessons rise to the level of profundity.” It is “a reframing of the future that all managers will face, no matter what "sector" they operate in.”
J.D. Lasica (my friend) at Social Media, concludes his review: I don’t have as much time as I once did to read books, but a recent cross-country plane ride was well spent, as I had in hand a book that changed how I think about the way the world works.”
TrapperMarkelz.com “highly-highly” recommends the book to “anyone working in technology.” He especially likes the quote: “It’s not what you know, and it’s not even who you know. It’s how much knowledge you give away. Hoarding knowledge diminishes your power, because it diminishes your presence.”
treats the book as beach reading. After describing the topic, he says
“if that sounds boring, you don't know what you're missing.” He even
calls the section on alphabetization a
Howard Rheingold at Smart Mobs says such nice things! Pardon my blushing as I paste in his opening: “It took me a while to get around to reading David Weinberger's book, Everything is Miscellaneous, but when I finally did, boy howdy, did my head and the world get rearranged. He's one of those few writers who makes simple and funny explanations of complex phenomena look easy. And he's onto something important. It's not just a new story and a big picture, it's a new picture and a big story.”
Tim Bray, whom I’ve known - and been friends with - for heading onto 20 years, says he’s given up trying to write a review because there’s too much to say. But, he writes, EiM is “on an important subject. It's beautifully written, full of humorous and graceful turns of phrase. It's wrong about some things, there are baffling omissions, and one or two horses flogged into dog-food. But if you care about how one ought to go about organizing information (and given the increasing volume and centrality of the stuff, you ought to) go read Everything is Miscellaneous.”
AKMA, whose opinion I value highly (he’s one of the voices in the back of my head as I write about some topics - “What would Akma say about this?”), says nice things about my book. He disputes 5% of it, however, and wonders if the difference between then and now warrants saying there’s a whole new order of order. I’ve replied in the comments.
The P2P Foundation (via Michel Bauwens) picked it as “the book of the week” because “It's a marvelous book for understanding the evolution of knowledge, both how we know things and how we organize our knowledge.”
Chris Shioyama at Gyaku has a great review that not only likes the book (thank you) but discusses it in detail. I’m very comfortable with how Chris explains the book. At the end, he criticizes me for not considering the importance of language and, in particular, for not seeing that the post-geographic divisions will be linguistic. (Chris cites Clay on this point.) FWIW, I certainly agree that linguistic divisions are real. In EiM’s terms, they matter because they are under-girded by semantic differences that can’t ever be fully overcome (because translation is always rewriting). Anyway, it’s a terrific review. Thank you, Chris.
Lauren Pressley at Lauren’s Library Blog says, “It's a fascinating book, with a fascinating corresponding blog.” It’s helped to prod her thinking about “information literacy.”
Tinfoiling says it’s a “terribly intriguing” book, and reflects on the properties of the traditional organizational schemes.
Paul Ivanov read the book in three sittings at Mel’s Books, and found it to be “pretty engaging.” He then recaps it and finds stuff to agree and disagree with.
[email protected] Carey has a substantial summary and consideration of the book. No adjectives are applied.
Yellow Dog is disappointed. In a thoughtful review, he says he wanted me to put “this text into a more serious conversation with the texts that come before it, that already shape various understandings of information organization, technology, classification schemes, rhetoric, writing.”
James Tauber is half way through the book and thinks it’s “wonderful.” He puts it in the “I ever thought of putting it that way before” category.
Dylan at 800-CEO-Read (where I’ve generally been sending companies that want to buy more than a few copies - Lor’ bless ‘em) really enjoyed it. He likens it to Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail.” And, no, they don’t say nice things about every book they sell.
Andy Greenberg at Forbes takes the book seriously, seems to think it’s on a topic worth writing about, and has interesting things to say, although he thinks I say most of them in the first few chapters (I disagree - I think the book develops a thesis, but, well, I would think that, wouldn’t I), although even so, my “story-laden writing keeps readers from straying.” Here’s his final paragraph: “As the author of a book about the virtues of chaos, Weinberger may be putting the last brick in the tomb of that “ancient and beautiful Greek idea.” But Everything Is Miscellaneous isn’t just about the promises of a messy Internet. It’s also a thoughtful obituary of history’s librarians, an elegy for the last order of order.”
Fred Fortin at the World Congress of Health Care blog considers how this “fascinating and insightful” book applies to medicine.
Wayne Bivens-Tatum, Philosophy & Religion Librarian at Princeton University, says: ” I liked the book, but I'm not sure I was the right audience, since much of it had a "well, of course" feel about it. ” He feels it’s over-long and not fair to libraries. (I left a comment on his review.)
A Fly on the Long Tail gives it a long review, finding it provocative but without a central thesis.
David Schatsky at Jupiter Research thinks there’s a central thesis. He just thinks it’s dangerously wrong. Here’s how his review begins: “David Weinberger’s excellent book, “Everthing is Miscellaneous” is enlightened, exciting, and inspiring. And taking it too literally could destroy your business.” He warns business not to jump onto this bandwagon without drawing important distinctions. Terrific piece. David and I have lots to talk about, apparently, and I think it would be a fruitful discussion.
The Intangibles likes the book after the first 80 pages, and writes questioning the degree to which Wikipedia really does make its metadata open and available.
Mike Abundo’s entire review at Emerging Earth: “The revolutionary fire of The Cluetrain Manifesto meets the critical thinking of The Long Tail. Cluetrain coauthor David Weinberger is back to blow your mind again by telling you that Everything is Miscellaneous. From Pythagoras to Google, prepare to rethink the very order of things on the emerging Earth.” Jeez, I don’t think I’ve blown anyone’s mind since that night in 1971 when I came up with a new theory of why orange the color doesn’t taste like oranges the fruit ;) (Thanks, Mike, for the enthusiastic review.)
John Caddell at Shop Talk says: “If you love the messiness that is the sprawl of information on the World Wide Web, then read “Everything Is Miscellaneous,” by David Weinberger. If you hate that messiness, you should read the book, too. It’ll teach you a few things.”
NonAnon found the book to be so boring that s/he says s/he preferred watching Priscilla Presley give a tour of Graceland. Ouch!
Chris Palmer at Avoidance Central jointly discusses EiM, The Cult of the Amateur and Mark Frauenfelder’s Rule the Web.
Karl Kapp thinks it’s “insightful and very funny.”
Vasu Srinivasan thinks it’s “fascinating.”
The Palos Verdes Library Director’s blog is a few chapters in and is finding lots to chew on. EiM seems to be expressing some of what the director has been thinking about for quite some time. She promises more posts to come.
Clive Shepherd is enthusiastic about the book, even though for him it was “preaching to the choir.” He says that nonetheless, “we need books like this to present the case powerfully and rationally to those who remain unconvinced.”
SamSpeak says: “I thought the book, at least in the way I read it, was very valuable.”
MackenzieBlog writes that it is “un libro fascinante.”
Kory Lanphear in BlogCritics gives it a strong review. He writes “…much of what Weinberger writes doesn't become obvious until after you read it, which is the subtle genius of Everything Is Miscellaneous. ” He concludes: “On the whole, Everything Is Miscellaneous never fails to be engaging and the content is relevant to just about anybody who has ever found their life directly influenced by the increasing pervasiveness of the Internet and its sundry capabilities.”
Nick Gerlich at Off the Shelf gives it a very positive review, explains it well, and says “Weinberger has challenged me like no author of late…”
Craig Randall at Craig’s Musings say, “I enjoyed this book every bit as much as I enjoyed reading Small Pieces Loosely Joined.” In the course of recounting the book’s themes, he applies them to the world of enterprise content management.
Bill, the reference librarian at Book Talk, writes enthusiastically about it and why it matters to librarians. He concludes: “Seminal stuff and a fun read, too.”
Nosequemasda generously writes: “De David Weinberger sólo podemos esperar algo extraordinario. No decepciona con su libro … que es.”
Notes from the Underground likes the book and thinks I’m describing entropy. Unless I misunderstand entropy (a probability nearing certainty), I think I’m desribing something like entropy. The miscellaneous is super-saturated with meaning and possible relationships, unlike the gray sameness of the entropic. I think. Anyway, a very interesting review. The post also points to the typos and thinkos in the book and attributes them to sloppiness. The post is right about the flaws, but the book actually went through two very careful copy-edit passes, as well as multiple readings by its excellent editor and me. Even so, we missed a whole bunch :(
Stefanie Panke does an excellent job explaining the themes of the book, under a title that may translate as “High on Disorder.” She concludes: “Die Netzwelt demaskiert damit die impliziten Machtverhältnisse, die tradierte Formen der Wissensorganisation mit sich bringen,” which means something like: The networked world thereby unmasks the implicit power relationships that the traditional forms of knowledge organization bring with them. Yup.
Create Generalist says the book “is a good one,” and then provides lots of excerpts.
Chris Palmer does a good job explaining the book. He seems to like it. He also reviews Cult of the Amateur and Mark Frauenfelder’s “Rule the Web.”
Len Ellis has seen through my “puffery” and “propaganda.” “The casual indifference to several millennia of human efforts to make sense of the world only leaves John and Jane in the post-modern void, unarmed and aimless,” he writes. Hmm. That’s not really what the book says. We still have tradition, language and culture. We just don’t have the ability to believe any more that there is a single way to understand the world and that that understanding can be gained simply by reading the authorized volumes.
Jeff Jarvis recommends the book “to anyone who wants to understand the fundamental change in the architecture of information in society, including media, learning, and business. It's a mind-opener and almost as fun as listening to David himself.”
Ken Yarmosh at TechnoInsight has a thoughtful review that takes issue with the theme in its closing paragraphs.
Tim Peter expected a lot from Everything Is Miscellaneous and was disappointed, although he still recommends it sort of highly.
Joel Alleyne has a terrific review of the book - terrific both because it’s well done and because he likes it a lot. He says it’s a “must-read” book. I was particular pleased by this: “I have spoken with a couple of colleagues at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information Studies who have built their academic careers in the area of knowledge organization and information/knowledge credibility. Having approached this book skeptically at first, they became converts to the concepts espoused.” (I did my grad work at U of T.)
EiM is a “featured book” over at the RSA Fellows blog, which reviews it by explaining what it talks about, but without a lot of evaluative adjectives.
Walter Underwood of The Most Casual Observer really really doesn’t like EiM. He gave up at page 150 because he finds my research to be sloppy. (1) He thinks I confused shelving schemes with classification schemes. My point was, however, that in browsable stacks, the one becomes the other. (2) When he says that in my discussion of the LCC I’ve again confused “a locating scheme with a subject classification scheme,” I think he is missing the boat. The LC spends a great deal of time usefully deciding how to classify books so that they can be located. (3) He criticizes me for taking the Dewey system as “representative of all library organization.” Since Dewey is used in the vast majority of public libraries in the US, I think it is representative, and, in any case, the problems I point to inhere in any paper-based, expert-created system, although the problems are more pronounced (which makes the Dewey system usefully unrepresentative) than in most. (4) He points out that WorldCat categorizes my example book as well as Amazon does, and thus I’m wrong to say that Amazon’s category scheme is better than WorldCat’s. In fact, I compared Amazon to Dewey, and my overall point stands: The Amazon book page gives us far more ways of finding and connecting books than traditional systems (including WorldCat) have. So, I guess I disagree with many of Walter’s specific criticisms. Walter’s is, however, a serious review and well worth reading and considering.
Ted Tjaden at Slaw considers the book to be a “must read.” He discusses how much of the second order of order we need to give up.
Nicole Engard, a “library technology enthusiast,” has only read the first half, but is finding it provocative enough to interrupt her husband with brief passages. That pleases me a lot. Later: She’s finished it and writes she is “so impressed! I love books that make me think - and Weinberger really left my head reeling.” And Nicole is a metadata librarian, so I’m especially glad she liked it.
Shannon Bain has a terrifically engaged consideration of the broad themes of the book regarded from both a philosophical and information architectural perspective. Shannon thinks I over-emphasize the miscellaneous and should recognize the importance of building local organizations appropriate to local needs. Since I agree with just about everything Shanon says, it’s a failure of writing on my part. Shannon’s review is perceptive and on important topics. So, thank you. (To quibble with one point in the review: I am not quite a nominalist, although I’m even less of an essentialist. The universe contains more attributes than we could shake a stick at. Which ones show themselves to us depends upon our language, culture, project, sensory apparatus, etc. I am more a phenomenologist about this than a nominalist.)
Rob Styles writes that in fact nothing is miscellaneous, although he means it in a positive way. He’s getting at the fact that the miscellany the book talks about is not just a pile of disconnected stuff, the leftovers after you’ve applied your taxonomy. It’s an interesting way of getting at the main themes of the book. Thanks, Rob.
Paul Gillin writes: "This is the best book I read about social media this year. While the book isn't technically about marketing, the principles it contains are important to anyone who is trying to understand the changes wrought by community publishing. ... Written in an engaging and often entertaining style, this book will open your eyes to the new dynamics of self-organization and stimulate you to envision its potential."
Tim Challies writes a thorough review and concludes: "Everything is Miscellaneous is really quite a good book and a good guide to how information is processed in our new, wired age. It’s far from the only attempt at understanding, but it’s definitely one of the most compelling. I recommend it." Thanks!
Jane Genova at Law and More says my book is the "best synopsis of what is happening, why, and the commercial implications," and then talks about the implications for experts and authorities.
Espen at Applied Abstractions provides a brief outline of the book and says: "The book lays out a detailed and very well written argument. ... Weinberger writes beautifully, yet tersely, and this will, no doubt, be a standard reference for years to come."
Rees Morrison of Law Department Management says it "bursts with provocative ideas."
Donkasprzk says that it's "really amazing."
Easily Distracted is disappointed in the book. He didn't learn much from it and is irked by its one-sidedness.
Armchair Media briefly recapitulates the argument of the book, says the premise isn't all that original, and ends by wondering what it means for Web design.
The February issue of Bucknell Magazine thinks the book is "fascinating." (Take it with a grain of salt. I'm a Bucknell alum.)
Sarah Statz Cords at Reader's Advisor Online begins by saying it was a bit over her head, but then she applies it well the world of literary blogs.
Megan Keane at The Quarterly Conversation has a substantial review that explains the key concepts. She seems to like it.
Jared Hanon at BackDrift does a nice job briefly capitulating it, and recommends it for a general overview, although he found that he was already familiar with much of it.
Joel Orr at the Congress on the Future of Engineering Softwarethinks it's "fascinating."
Natevw at A Glob of Nerdishness liked it ok but was disappointed by its "fluffy, overly colorful style." He didn't get much out of it that wasn't in Clay Shirky's Ontology Is Overrated talk. (Clay's talk is a fantastic presentation and certainly was influential on me, as acknowledged. Also, Clay's new book, Here Comes Everybody is terrific and important.)
The Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies named it Book of the Month for April 2008, and ran three full-length reviews. Lucinda Austin thinks the book is enjoyable, offers some "great insight" and is well-reasoned. Geoffrey B. Cain says the book is "remarkable," although he thinks I fail to recognize the problems caused by an over-abundance of tags. He also thinks I'm too down on librarians. (He's also peeved by misspellings in my online bibliography.) Erika Pearson finds it meanders and that I'm inconsistent in my use of the ternm "miscellaneous," although she thinks it's "easy-to-read, fluid, and often appropriately sardonic..." Most of all, she thinks I gloss over "important implications or alternate outcomes without even acknowledging their existence, or even their weaknesses or limitations."
Innovation Journal (a publication of Fast's Center for Search Innovation" has devotes four pages to an unsigned review that says: "Six years on from the publiation of Cluetrain Manifesto, this is the clearest account yet of fundamentals behind the 'webiness' of the web, and how what's different about information on the internet is turning many operating assumptions about knowledge and about business on their heads." (It is not yet available on line. It is issue #2.)
The American Library Association's CLENE Round Table blog seems to like the book: "Weinberger�€™s charm lies in his ability to make us think, initially, about how information is organized or dis-organized, and then to nudge us along a path which makes it more likely that we�€™ll find more of what we�€™re seeking and then be willing to share it." And: "By the time we reach the final sections of Everything Is Miscellaneous, we�€™re happily flying high in messiness and miscellany with Weinberger." Thanks!
Brian McCooley writes: "This book is a great read, and really shows the underlying significance that is forming from the information we are producing." His review focuses on the importance of the implicit, a topic I'm fond of that usually doesn't get featured in reviews.
Drew at Drew Yaks says the book started out slowly for him, but won him over after the first few pages. "This is a wonderful book for anybody designing software," he writes.
The Core Dump thinks it's "an enjoyable, breezy read," that it makes sense, and that it uses good exmaples, but that it's longer than it needs to be.
CDL at Project Blog thinks it's "interesting," but s/he is concerned about the privacy implications of the miscellanized world, and doesn't have the time to bother to make meaning together.
Joshua Finnell at Metapsychology Online Reviews gives it a long review, concluding: "This book is a well-researched engagement with the evolving subject of digital information, adding insight and rigorous historical context to the socialization of knowledge. Not only does Weinberger introduce new and innovative ideas, he also provides a broad introduction and guide to many of the key questions on this highly debated topic. This book is written for a general audience but can become heavily laced with theory from time to time. Overall, Weinberger has constructed a clear and stimulating exposition which deserves careful contemplation. This work should be considered essential reading for both proponents and opponents of the new digital disorder." Thanks!
Alex Barnett writes: "I'm thoroughly enjoying David Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous (The Power of the New Digital Disorder). Weinberger has a canny knack for taking a subject matter I feel I'm already familiar with and yet illuminating and expressing facets of it in such a way as to greatly further and deepen my understanding of it."
SpaceBeer has a review I really enjoyed. He's a librarian and found himself getting "riled" by the book at various points, but ultimately she "really enjoyed" the book. I like that she got past some of her riled-uppedness when she realized the book isn't actually about libraries or for librarians, although it certainly touches on some shared interests. Plus she thinks my "overviews are fun to read, well-researched, and deep enough to make his point without getting sidetracked." Thanks!
Wartaalman gives a cogent recounting of the argument of the book and recommends it.
Denise De Murcie at Mass High Tech applies the book's ideas to video, doing a nice job explaining its themes along the way.