Author and Professor
I’d like to say that David was a phenomenal speaker. Everything that appears below is my shorthand notes of his talk. I’m not this smart.
Libraries in an Age of Abundance
We are now in an economy of abundance when it comes to knowledge, when it comes to content. But we are also in an economy of abundance when it comes to crap, but we know how to deal with that. There is so much good stuff that we’re having problems trying to figure out how to wade through all the good stuff.
We don’t have a plural form of knowledge, and its the same for everyone. There is only one truth and that makes knowledge binary. Knowledge is scarce, we came up with this in Athens because of all of the “voices”. So we decided that knowledge was what we believed and had proof to believe it. Knowledge is a system and everything in it has a single place.
The second principle is that of division into species according to the natural formation, where the joint is, not breaking any part as a bad carver might. –Phaedrus by Plato
The Aristotelian taxonomic tree is that everything gets one place. But this isn’t real, that’s not the way the world works, but this insistence keeps us from understanding the world.
The world has clustered attributes. And this is why digitized information is closer to reality than the real objects because real objects can only go into one place. However with digitized information everything can be linked to each other, making messiness OK, because order doesn’t scale well.
Metadata is changing. When you search you’ll get back everything related to the data, not just the thing you search for because metadata helps you pry up knowledge. This makes content connected.
We’ll do it ourselves. When you own the stuff, you own the organization of it, but online you can get the information and organize it the way that you want. He used a great example of a flickr photo from the Library of Congress that was tagged and reorganize it because of the tagging.
We are now making a giant pile of leaves, where as before we were creating taxonomic trees. The old ideas was including and excluding, and you exclude more than you include. But on the net you include everything because you can’t know what people are interested in. We can postpone organizing, classifying, and taxonomizing to the very last moment.
Knowledge is being commoditized. This is what Google and Wikipedia are doing. One of the good things about this is that now we are living in a knowledge ecology.
Many of our techniques for navigating is based on social networks. There is a hidden homogeneity that we need to fight against.
Wikipedia teaches us four things:
- we can do more than we think we can — Wikipedia should not have worked, but it did
- our motives are more complex than we thought
- the old way of knowing doesn’t scale
- knowledge is a human architect — there isn’t one human knowledge
We are ceasing to take knowledge as the highest human function. Knowing things is good, and we’re good at it, BUT something else is swarming around it and that is understanding stuff. We are understanding thing far better, more quickly, and less deeply.
“there exists a realm of knowledge that grows through individual contributions, is transmitted from generation to generation such that its existence is thought to be continuous and is capable of being examined.” — Francis Miksa of the U of Texas at Austin