[iDC] Everything is Misc - extracts and intro

Peter Timusk ptimusk at sympatico.ca
Mon Jul 9 16:23:02 EDT 2007

Just a couple of comments here information is raw and at the base of  
the synthesis to become knowledge and then finally at the top wisdom.  
This is and always will be a human function.  Experience will always  
prove elders better at this.

but there is much more to this I am still trying to learn reading the  
sociology of knowledge.

Now post modern as I explained to coworkers today is that truth is  
changed from one moment, one mood, to the next, there are no  
contradictions no relativism,

  we have an example from my workplace talk today

" I like people dancing to Gloria sung by Van Morrison and at another  
moment I want everyone at the concert sitting so I can see the show."

a coworker thought this was inconsistent.

post modernism is not saying "whatever" that is what the impatient  
say or those who can't understand the more complex world we live in  
when it is being explained.

Peter Timusk,
B.Math statistics (2002), B.A. legal studies (2006) Carleton University
Systems Science Graduate student, University of Ottawa (2006-2007).
just trying to stay linear.
Read by hundreds of lurkers every week.

On 9-Jul-07, at 12:01 AM, Myron Turner 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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