David Weinberger: Too Big to Know

by jonl

David Weinberger

I’m leading a discussion on the WELL with David Weinberger, inspired by his latest book, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. David’s been writing about the transformation of knowledge in the Internet era, in the book and sometimes on his blog.

Link to the discussion.

the central hypotheses of the book is that knowledge is moving (= has moved) from living in skulls, books, and libraries to living on networks and the Net.

So, if you want to know about some topic beyond the occasional fact, you’re likely to spend time on some network on the Net. It might be a mailing list, or a Google hangout, or Reddit, or a set of web sites… In fact, The Well provides a convenient example, and also lets me do some basic pandering. (Love ya, The Well!) A network of people connected in discussion and argument know more than the sum of what the individual people know. In that sense, knowledge lives in the network.

For me, the most interesting aspect of this is another of the book’s hypotheses: Knowledge is taking on the properties of its new medium, just as it had taken on properties of the old. Among those properties: networked knowledge is unsettled, and includes differences and disagreements that traditional knowledge insisted on removing (or at least marginalizing).

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