Wednesday, February 4, 2015

... the wild diversity .................................

The philosopher and Web pundit David Weinberger makes a particularly eloquent case for preserving the ontological chaos, arguing that human knowledge is inherently fluid and that attempts at orchestrating it are doomed to failure.  Celebrating the "new principles of digital disorder,"  Weinberger argues that "we have to get rid of the idea that there's a best way of organizing the world."  He further argues in favor of making as much information as possible freely available, without trying to exert quality controls.  Instead, users should have open access to everything and choose whatever seems useful.  "Filter on the way out, not on the way in,"  he writes, predicting the emergence of what he calls a "third order" of knowledge, one not constrained by the physical limitations of paper, nor encumbered by layers of institutional gatekeepers.  Instead, he argues for a maximalist approach:  collect everything and sort it out later, since the online world provides "an abundance of access to an abundance of resources."  Pointing to examples like Wikipedia and Flickr, Weinberger argues that the old order of knowledge - the Aristotelian notion that knowledge was shaped like a tree - has fallen by the wayside and that the free-form structure of today's Web provides a more accurate description of culture, on that "better represents the wild diversity of human interests and thought.
-Alex Wright, as excerpted from Cataloging the World:  Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age

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