Everything is Miscellaneous

There is a very interesting book by David Weinberger I just read for the second time – it should be for everyone interested how traditional approaches to searching and classifying knowledge have to be changed to work in a digital world – I recommend this to people who have to build any kind of knowledge applications:

Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder

Some of the interesting observations:

  • Any kind of knowledge classification has problems to cope with new science and technology – for the single fact that it is new and was not thought of when the classification was conceived.
  • editorial control over content does not scale in a Web 2.0 world unless your editorial capacity is scaled up with the millions of users hitting your site (solution: get a large number of volunteer editors like wikipedia)
  • Tagging (e.g. Delicious) scales much better than classification, but it actually needs large numbers to be meaningful. Small number of tags are just random bits of data without any information. Large numbers of tags reveal information which would not be visible in a classical approach.
  • Classification also has often problems when something belongs to multiple categories. With Tagging this is easy to solve.
  • tagging is limited when you need hard, reliable, authoritative information about something

Most important – it is actually fun to read!


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