I picked up Everything is Miscellaneous to read while on vacation, and was promptly made fun of by my library school colleagues, because, apparently, it’s an assigned text in one of the cataloging classes. Well, I commend the person who’s assigning this book, because it’s really excellent. David Weinberger does a great job talking about complicated issues of information organization and changing knowledge structures in a way that is accessible and even entertaining.
Weinberger’s book discusses the ways that the new digital order is changing our innate drive to organize the world around us. He claims that humans have always been trying to bring order to an essentially miscellaneous world, and that the growth of the digital allows everything to remain in its miscellaneous state, while allowing each individual to order and access things in his or her own way. According to Weinberger, this frees people up for more higher-order work: innovating, thinking, collaborating, and creating, instead of organizing and ordering.
I think this book has some really fascinating implications for, most significantly, education. Weinberger only briefly discusses the way that students and teachers are using the digital infrastructure to learn and work differently, and I would have liked a little more depth on how students’ learning styles are changing, and how our educational systems are reacting to these changes. My guess is that they aren’t reacting nearly fast enough. I think it could be really interesting to spend some time thinking about how to bring this new disordered order into education, to take advantage of how people really learn.
So whether the book is assigned or not, I highly recommend it. I’m searching for some follow up blog posts, as I’m really interested to hear what other people have to say about Weinberger’s ideas. If you’ve read something interesting about digital organization, please send it my way!