Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

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Warning: this book review may be “miscellaneous”…

May 7th, 2007 · 1 Comment

David Weinberger's book in Betsy Devine's very messy kitchen tool drawer …though that’s a good thing, says David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous — the info-pop page-turner (think Blink or Freakonomics) seen here in my kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer.

What is miscellanous, when we mean that in a good way? Big heaps of information, spread out all over the Internet so that its different bits get tagged by many people for many different reasons. Anything that puts more information into that huge heap of (virtual) mess is good–hyperlinks! playlists! statistics! messy folksonomies! The book (much less miscellanous than this review of it) does a fine job of whacking a much-needed path for a human brain into the hugely intertwingled confusion of modern possiblities for organizing and understanding reality.

Now I must warn you about this book’s bad side-effect. It is full of “aha!” moments that you’ll start quoting to other people. And explaining to them. And since you will probably not explain these ideas with as much humor and clarity as David, their eyes may glaze over when you are just getting warmed up. But will you bear with me for just a few of my favorite bits, just some really short ones?

  • “Information is easy. Space, time, and atoms are hard.” p. 5
  • “Discovering what you want is at least as important as finding what you know you want.” p.9
  • “Metadata is what you already know and data is what you’re trying to find.” p. 104
  • “Printing requires documents to be declared to be finished at some point.” p. 145
  • “Humans have purposes because we have needs because we’re not gods.” p 170

But even if your friends will stand still for your explanation of David’s “Three orders of order,” they will probably run when you threaten to read to them out loud the quotes and anecdotes that make the book so lively. Really, just tell your friends to go buy their own copies.

Disclosure–I am a blogfriend of David Weinberger, and his publisher sent me a free review copy. But I’ve also blog-argued with David about some of his other writings, so I think you can consider my praise for this book as sincere. Especially since David is such a sweet guy that he even links to the only bad review that I think his book’s gotten.

Tags: everythingismiscellaneous · Wide wonderful world · wikipedia

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Everything is Miscellaneous » Blog Archive » Betsy Devine’s review // May 7, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    […] Betsy Devine thinks the book “does a fine job of whacking a much-needed path” into the confusion that is its topic. “It is full of ‘aha!’ moments that you’ll start quoting to other people…” Betsy also has a picture of the book stuck into her kitchen miscellaneous drawer. […]