Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Shape of Knowledge

 In Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder,  David Weinberger tells us that knowledge doesn't have a shape.  There are just too many useful, powerful and beautiful ways to make sense of our world (p.83)   In a very entertaining way, Weinberger takes us on a historical journey through time to show how the basis for categorizing knowledge has shifted from "experts" to "us".  For example, he compares the Dewey Decimal classification system which is limited by the physcs of paper to give each book a spot on the shelf (p. 62) to Amazon which likes a friendly disorder, stuffing its pages with alternative ways of browsing and offbeat offers peculiar to each person's behavior(p.6).

 In chapter 7, Social Knowing, Weinberger contrasts the intransience of the entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica with those of Wikipedia which are in a constant state of beta.  This chapter also gives insight into how the citizen journalists of Wikipedia work to achieve accuracy and neutality.   His behind the scene peek at the workings of Wikipedia are well worth the read.  In closing this chapter, he offers a view of knowledge quite similar to George Siemen's concept of connectivism when he comments that we can see for ourselves that knowledge isn't in our heads:It's between us.  It emerges from public and social thought, and it stays there, because social knowing, like the global conversations that give rise to it, is never finished (p147).

Weinberger provides us with a conceptual framework to view how knowledge today is digitally organized on business sites like iTunes and social bookmarking sites such as Delicious.  He explains how folksonomy gives people more control over knowledge by making it relevant to them as individuals.  According to Weinberger, Reality is multifaceted.  There are lots of ways to slice it up.  How we choose to slice it up depends on why we're slicing it up (p.82).