16 June 2008

everything is platonic

I've started reading Everything is miscellaneous by David Weinberger, thanks to Johanna Bauman who suggested it some time ago and again at the VRA chapter meeting last week. The subtitle is "the power of the new digital disorder." Weinberger writes about how we categorize things: we as catalogers, we as information seekers; how the digital world allows us (or Amazon or Flickr or whatever) to dis-connect and re-connect bits of information based on needs of the moment; how all together we inform each other (if inform is the right verb); how connections grow and morph. Here's just a teaser from page 62:

"Dewey liked the precision, predictability, and uniqueness of decimal numbers, Amazon throws books in front of your eyes with abandon. Compared to the neat row of numbered volumes on the shelf of the library, Amazon is a carnival of books, where even the orderly rows of the marching band are interrupted by a weaving conga line of suggestions."

A few pages further on, he's talking about "lumps and splits" and lists. Lumps for when you put things in the same basket, splits when you put them in different baskets. He talks about maps, nests, and trees, and Plato and Aristotle. When he's talking about Plato, he exemplifies Plato's ideal by talking about the 501st elephant which is more real than the herd of 500 because it represents Elephant. It sounded rather like Work in FRBR: intangible, eternal, ideal. Oy.


Ross said...

Have you encountered the 'data squirrel' yet?

shermaniac said...

Oh, nuts, no I haven't heard of data squirrel ... yet.