[iDC] Everything is Misc - extracts and intro

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 9 07:00:14 EDT 2007

I have enjoyed David's summary and the critical contributions.

I think we are only at the early stages of the third order and need some
additional meta-tools.

David would probably concur with me when I say that truth building can only
be collective, since it is dependent on our frameworks of understanding,
each framework being a limitation of sorts. So what he have discovered is
that truth is contributory, i.e. it is best approached through a constant
individual effort at integrating various perspectives ,by becoming
meta-paradigmatic rather than mono-paradigmatic. Depending on the kind of
data/information/knowledge needed to be validated, there will be different
criteria for material, social science, hermeneutic, and spiritual types of
knowledge, but for each, the ability to coherently integrate is probably

So each of us is using each other's insights to build our own individual
integration, while also attempting to build collective knowledge amongst
communities. The ability to know then becomes partly a function of 1) the
know-who and know-how abilities inherent in our social networks; 2) our
individual and collective abilities at integration (know-how, know-why)
dependent on the soundness of our individual or collective integrative

David points out that we now have the ability to attach an endless number of
tags to objects which can be copied at no cost. What the new tools are doing
is to compare our categorisation with those of others, not just for one
object, but to peek in the whole framework system.

Where I have issues is in the process of selection. While I believe in
communal validation, I do not believe that the highest number leads to the
highest quality, and hence, as I would notice on Digg and other sites, it is
often the lowest common denominator sites which are driven upwards. The
escape key in this situation is to allow each of us to do our own
selectivity, and here I particularly appreciate the network feature of
delicious, which allows me entry into the frameworks and selections of the
minds I consider to be the best.

I can now do this on a global level, but I would like to see this happen on
a more discrete detailed level. For example, we need tools that allow us to
congregate similar tags, and to then look at the best choices related to
those tags. I'm sure this can be done manually, but it is a gargantuan task,
so that semantic help would be very useful. For example, can I discover,
who, for a particular tag, has selected the same percentage of objects as I
did, thereby allowing me to check the different objects.

Does anyone know, who has been work at such a meta-level?


On 7/9/07, Myron Turner <mturner at cc.umanitoba.ca> wrote:
> I found the excerpts from David Weinberger's book interesting.  But I
> had the feeling that he tended at times to conflate information with
> knowledge.  David uses information to mean "information technology",
> i.e. search engines, databases, on-line catalogs (usually databases),
> collections of hyperlinks (del.icio.us, iTunes, bookmark collections),
> and the kinds of categorization technologies that enable the filtering
> of this data.  True, this is a kind of "knowledge", vastly more fluid
> and provocative than, say, the old library catalog with its yellowing,
> dog-eared cards and so much quicker than browsing the stacks and
> specialist bibliographies, which together once made up our information
> technology.  But one would never confuse the "information" in the card
> catalog with what it pointed to, and this is what I sometimes find in
> David's analysis.  For instance, he quotes the disdainful remark about
> Wikipedia made by Robert McHenry, former editor of  Britannica.  I
> (unfortunately) happen to be a rather uncritical user of Wikipeda.
> Unlike me, McHenry is a critical reader. He is not talking about
> information technology, how we get to Wikipedia, but about the content
> of the articles that appear in Wikipeda.  Just because I think something
> is junk doesn't mean I am intimidated by overabundance of choice.
> Information is not in itself ambiguous, or contradictory.  Information
> is just that, information.  What it points to, that may be contradictory
> or ambiguous.  I haven't read David's book and have only the passages
> quoted in the posting.  So I'm not sure who the "we" are in the
> paragraphs below.  When I was a young graduate student,  50 years ago,
> it was already a salutary part of our intellectual culture that science,
> like the arts, also had a need for metaphors to imagine the
> contradictions of the invisible.  My PBS knowledge of contemporary
> physics tells me that this is even more true today and quite readily
> acknowledged by physicists.  There will always be people who can't live
> in contradiction and prefer answers to be embedded in absolutes.   So,
> it would be interesting to know who these "we" are.  I suspect that
> David is writing against a backdrop of  absolutist socio-political
> culture in the U.S.  But perhaps there is also a culture of cynicism in
> the corporate world that, given his background, David is aware of and
> that leads to the dissing of uncomfortable contradictions.  That would
> make for interesting reading.
> There is also a question of the neutrality of digital information
> technology.   As Lawrence Lessig put it, "Code is Law":  "In
> cyberspace," he writes,  "we must understand how code regulates--how the
> software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is regulate
> cyberspace as it is."   It is true that information on the Internet
> seems to come at us in a miscellaneous fashion.  But information
> technology is not neutral and unfiltered.  We are all very dependent on
> Google, but Google's search results are not really miscellaneous but
> filtered through constantly changing tweaks to its algorithms.  Because
> of the vast spaces of the Internet and the multiplicity of information
> sources, we may experience the Internet as miscellaneous.  Nevertheless,
> we are now in other hands than those of  the intellectual elites of the
> past.  These new, digital corporate hands may appear less coercive and
> intrusive than those earlier hands, but are they as well intentioned?
> Thank you for the stimulating topic,
> Myron Turner
> David Weinberger wrote:
> > As we've seen, the first characteristic of traditional knowledge is
> > that just as there is one reality, there is one knowledge, the same for
> > all. If two people have contradictory ideas about something factual, we
> > think they can't both be right. This is because we've assumed
> > knowledge is an accurate representation of reality, and the real world
> > cannot be self-contradictory. We treat ideas that dispute this view of
> > knowledge with disdain. We label them "relativism" and imagine them
> > to be the devil's work, we sneer at them as "postmodern" and
> > assume that it's just a bunch of French pseudo-intellectual gibberish,
> > or we say "whatever" as a license to stop thinking.
> >
> > Second, we've assumed that just as reality is not ambiguous, neither
> > is knowledge. If something isn't clear to us, then we haven't
> > understood it. We may not be 100% certain whether the Nile or the Amazon
> > is the longest river, we but we're confident one is. Conversely, if
> > there's no possibility of certainty - "Which tastes better, beets or
> > radishes?" - we say it isn't a matter of knowledge at all.
> > Robert McHenry, a former editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica,
> > summed up his analysis of Wikipedia:
> >
> >
> >      "The user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some
> >      subject, to confirm some matter of fact, is rather
> >      in the position of a visitor to a public restroom.
> >      It may be obviously dirty, so that he knows to exercise
> >      great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he
> >      may be lulled into a false sense of security. What
> >      he certainly does not know is who has used the facilities
> >      before him."
> >
> > If these experts of the second order sound a bit hysterical, it is
> > understandable. The change they're facing from the miscellaneous is deep
> > and real. Authorities have long filtered and organized information for
> > us, protecting us from what isn't worth our time and helping us find
> > what we need to give our beliefs a sturdy foundation. But, with the
> > miscellaneous, it's all available to us, unfiltered.
> --
> _____________________
> Myron Turner
> http://www.room535.org
> http://www.mturner.org/XML_PullParser/
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