Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Webby David Weinberger
The Web doesn't exist in space, yet we talk about going to sites, entering them, and leaving. Diaries move online and suddenly they're more about creating selves than writing about them. Web sites don't have fences, yet a site for auction hunters was found to have trespassed on eBay, a metaphorical offense for which it paid a very real price. Companies invest heavily in professional, polished Web sites, but the Web rewards sites that revel in imperfection. Bits are the "atoms" of the Web, but they have no weight, no size and no real existence.
These anomalies are just a few that show how uncomfortable the fit between the Web and the real world is -- and how deeply weird the ordinary life of the Web is. In this one-of-a-kind book of social commentary, David Weinberger takes us beyond the hype, revealing what is truly revolutionary about this new medium. Just as Marshall McLuhan forever altered our view of broadcast media, Weinberger shows that the Web is transforming not only social institutions but also bedrock concepts of our world such as space, time, self, knowledge -- even reality itself. The Web would be important enough if it hooked up our species on a global scale. But, Weinberger argues, it is doing much more than that. Unlike previous technologies such as the phone or fax, the Web is a permanent public space that gathers value every time someone posts a Web page, responds on a discussion board, or replies to a mail list. More and more of our lives together are being lived in this new, second world that intersects the real world in ways we have only begun to understand.
Weinberger introduces us to the denizens of this second world, people like Zannah, whose online diary turns self-revelation into play; Tim Bray, whose map of the Web reveals what's at the heart of the new Web space; and Danny Yee and Claudiu Popa, part of the new breed of Web experts we trust despite their lack of obvious qualifications. Through these stories of life on the Web, an insightful take on some familiar -- and some unfamiliar -- Web sites, and a pervasive sense of humor, Weinberger is the first to put the Web into the social and intellectual context we need to begin assessing its true impact on our lives. The irony, according to Weinberger, is that this seemingly weird new technology is more in tune with our authentic selves than is the modern world. Because the Web foils our conventional assumptions about concepts like space and time and self, we are led back to a more authentic view of what it means to be a person sharing a world with others -- whether it's the world of the Web or the real world of atoms. Our experience on the Web enables us to recapture the truth of our experience of the real world. Funny, provocative, and ultimately hopeful, Small Pieces Loosely Joined makes us look at the Web as never before.
- Basic Books
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Meet the Author
David Weinberger is the publisher of JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization). Co-author of the best-selling The Cluetrain Manifesto, he is a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and has written for a wide variety of publications, including Wired, the New York Times, and Smithsonian.
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