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

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Overview


With the advent of the Internet and the limitless information it contains, we’re less sure about what we know, who knows what, or even what it means to know at all. And yet, human knowledge has recently grown in previously unimaginable ways and in inconceivable directions. In Too Big to Know, David Weinberger explains that, rather than a systemic collapse, the Internet era represents a fundamental change in the methods we have for understanding the world around us. With examples from history, politics, business,...
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Overview


With the advent of the Internet and the limitless information it contains, we’re less sure about what we know, who knows what, or even what it means to know at all. And yet, human knowledge has recently grown in previously unimaginable ways and in inconceivable directions. In Too Big to Know, David Weinberger explains that, rather than a systemic collapse, the Internet era represents a fundamental change in the methods we have for understanding the world around us. With examples from history, politics, business, philosophy, and science, Too Big to Know describes how the very foundations of knowledge have been overturned, and what this revolution means for our future.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Weinberger (Everything is Miscellaneous), a senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, engagingly examines the production, dissemination, and accessibility of knowledge in the Internet era. The fundamental and pertinent question Weinberger pursues is how the new surplus of knowledge afforded by the Internet affects our "basic strategy of knowing." This strategy evolved from "book-shaped thought," a form "in which parts depend upon the parts before it." Unlike books, however, Weinberger contends that long-form argument on the Internet engages a more dynamic dimension than a static book ever could: it is "put into a network where the discussion around it will violate its pristine logic." Despite the slight incompatibility to long-form argument, ideas, and knowledge on the Internet are plentiful, hyperlinked, autonomous, open, and, perhaps most importantly, unsettled, making the Internet a forum within which knowledge is not merely accepted; it is contemplated and questioned. While occasionally tending towards the philosophical, Weinberger's book is full of relevant and thought-provoking, insights that make making it a must-read for anyone concerned with knowledge in the digital age. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Marc Benioff, chairman, CEO salesforce.com, bestselling author of Behind the Cloud
“Led by the Internet, knowledge is now social, mobile, and open. Weinberger shows how to unlock the benefits.”

John Seely Brown, co-author of The Social Life of Information and A New Culture of Learning
 “Too Big to Know is a stunning and profound book on how our concept of knowledge is changing in the age of the Net. It honors the traditional social practices of knowing, where genres stay fixed, and provides a graceful way of understanding new strategies for knowing in today's rapidly evolving, networked world. I couldn't put this book down. It is a true tour-de-force written in a delightful way.”
 
Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind
“With this insightful book, David Weinberger cements his status as one of the most important thinkers of the digital age. If you want to understand what it means to live in a world awash in information, Too Big to Know is the guide you've been looking for.”
 
Tony Burgess, Cofounder, CompanyCommand.com
“David Weinberger’s Too Big to Know is an inspiring read—especially for networked leaders who already believe that the knowledge to change the world is living and active, personal, and vastly interconnected. If, as David writes, “Knowledge is becoming inextricable from—literally unthinkable without—the network that enables it” our great task as leaders is to design networks for the greater good. David casts the vision and gives us excellent examples of what that looks like in action, even as he warns us of the pitfalls that await us.”
 
David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States
Too Big to Know is a refreshing antidote to the doomsday literature of information overload. Acknowledging the important roles that smart mobs and wise crowds have played, David Weinberger focuses on solutions to the crisis in knowledge—translating information into new knowledge by exploiting the network.  Based upon the premise that ‘knowledge lives not in books, not in heads, but on the net,’ Weinberger outlines a bold net infrastructure strategy that is inclusive rather that exclusive, creates more useful information—metadata, exploits linking technologies, and encourages institutional participation.  The result is a network that is both ‘a commons and a wilds’ where the excitement lies in the limitless possibilities that connected human beings can realize.”
 
Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive SurplusToo Big To Know is Weinberger's brilliant synthesis of myriad little debates—information overload, echo chambers, the wisdom of crowds—into a single vision of life and work in an era of networked knowledge.”

Library Journal
The Internet has changed how society gains information. Today's weather forecast, political commentary on U.S. relations with the Middle East, and tips for using the latest software can all be obtained in seconds through a search engine. Weinberger (senior researcher, Berkman Ctr. for the Internet & Society, Harvard Univ.; Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder) asks whether the increased availability of information has changed what most people know and whether it is changing knowledge itself. He explores the benefits and drawbacks of our thoroughly connected culture, using several examples to illustrate how the knowledge paradigm is changing—once information was sought from experts, and now it is gleaned from networks. Although Weinberger does provide some insightful answers, this book may be even more valuable as a catalyst for further discussion. VERDICT A thought-provoking work that is both reassuring and daunting, this will appeal to all readers but will be of special interest to anyone studying information technology. Recommended.—William Baer, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
Razor-sharp analysis of the state of knowledge in the age of computer networking. Weinberger (Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, 2007, etc.), a senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Institute for Internet and Society, argues that the collaborative, hyperlinked, instant nature of the Internet has fundamentally altered the way humans relate with knowledge. In the Gutenberg age, because of the finite nature of the book, limited by both its number of pages and the number of copies that could be printed, knowledge was necessarily ordered and hierarchical. The author added pieces to the collective store of knowledge, while publishers, editors, librarians and the community of scholars decided for the common good what was and was not important to know. The Internet has radically upended that hierarchy and knocked down the walls of the knowledge store. In 1989, pundits worried that with 1,000 books published in the world every day, people were suffering from information overload. That was small potatoes, it turns out. In 2008, Weinberger writes, Americans consumed 3.6 zettabytes, "a number so large that we have to do research just to understand it." The author suggests that we make peace with this overwhelming state of affairs, and it seems many of us already have. The democratizing of knowledge is not without its dangers. Bad information has equal access to the common well with good information, and is just as viral. But crowdsourced and refereed resources like Wikipedia give Weinberger hope. The difference between the old style of knowing and the new one is embodied in the differences between a set of encyclopedias and Google. One can fit on a shelf; the other is uncontainable, essentially "an infrastructure of connection." A witty and wise companion in this new age of information overload.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465085965
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 658,997
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


David Weinberger is a Senior Researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is the author of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Everything Is Miscellaneous, and a coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    A really great book

    Although this book gets off to a slow start once it picks up and really gets into the meat of the subject it is hard to put down. It is said the only constant is change but often we don't recognize the change because it is so gradual. Too Big To Know is a real eyeopener to the social change taking place on the planet. No longer are we separated by miles and time but, thanks to the internet, are living in an instant society and the way it is affecting who and what we are is nothing short of amazing.

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