I just finished reading David Weinberger’s book, Everything is Miscellaneous (thanks, Brad!). 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.
First things first – Weinberger MUST know some librarians! Throughout the book, he mentions librarians… even some specific ones (ok, he even mentions Gorman and Blog People!). Weinberger also mentions card catalogs, FRBR, faceted searching (in relation to Endeca), DDC, and LCSH. He even quotes Ranganathan! So it’s definitely a “librarian-friendly” book.
Now, on to my main beef with the book. The title of the book, obviously, is Everything is Miscellaneous. And in most of the book, Weinberger tends to discuss first how something is either currently categorized or organized, and then how that organization or categorization has changed with web 2.0 tools and tagging specifically. How has it changed? According to Weinberger, allowing individuals to sort and tag information however they want equates to the world of information turning miscellaneous.
Interestingly enough, I agree with everything Weinberger says… but the term “miscellaneous” bugs me.
Instead of using “miscellaneous,” I’d use “personal.” In fact, I’d change the title of the book to Everything is Personal or Everything is Personally Relevant. Most of the information Weinberger describes as being miscellaneous isn’t actually haphazardly mish-mashed together (definition of Miscellaneous found using Google). Instead, the information, or the metadata at least, has been customized – or personalized – for “me.” Tags, searches, descriptions, customizations – all help to make the information personally relevant to me.
So… it might just be a semantics thing – I dunno. But I don’t see Weinberger’s miscellaneous pile of leaves (read the book – you’ll understand) as miscellaneous. Instead, I see it as opportunity. As something waiting to be discovered by me, tagged and described adequately enough that I can revisit it – which pulls it out of the miscellaneous pile and into my personally relevant, “I place you here” organizational needs.
And if my personal, sorted-through pile helps others (ie., tagging items in flickr), then great!
Update: Part 2 is here…