Library Link of the Day pointed to David Weinberger's recent Tech Talk at Google, in which he flog's his latest book, Everything is Miscellaneous. The talk is an entertaining rendition of why digitization averts the problem of trying to have a single-best-organization for the world. The book, which I've just started, reaches deeply and none-too-gently into our notions of how the information domain is or should be structured. David dedicated the book 'to the librarians', though librarians may be forgiven for squirming a bit, especially during his viciously funny send up of Melvil Dui...er... Dewey.
The essence of his argument is that the transformational technology of Web 2.0 is creating an infrastructure of meaning that, in aggregate, is more about us and what we are interested in, than any authority-mediated source like a traditional newspaper or encyclopedia can possibly be.
This isn't to say that David rejects all authority, but rather that hammering its artifacts into pre-categorized structures is inimical to its efficient utilization, and preemptive about what constitutes authority to begin with. The distinctions between metadata and data disappear in this view -- any fragment in or about a work can be useful in retrieving that work, and the fact that they are all digital allows us to start anywhere and end anywhere. Herman Melville can lead us to Call me Ishmael, and Call me Ishmael can lead us to Herman Melville. The other Melvil need play no role.
The buzz du jour around the the offices here today was Facebook's claim as a social utility -- a major primary platform for social networking (thanks to Lorcan for bringing this to my attention). Part of the announcement included a piece about book reviews:
For example, Facebook and Amazon.com developed a “Book Reviews” applications that lets Facebookers write and show book reviews on their profile pages, and add Amazon ‘Buy’ buttons.
David and Facebook and Amazon all agree that book reviews are pretty important metadata. Conversations about the uses and users of bibliographic information in our own community evidence a rising awareness that our own metadata, designed for management and repurposed for discovery, is sorely in need of re-engineering. We could do a lot worse than follow Weinberger's (and Facebook's and Amazon's) lead... read a book, write about it, and link to the library supply chain. Perhaps his book dedication is more in the nature of an invocation.
Oh... yeah... Paris Hilton.... Stars and planets, and self-rounding... watch the video.
Image: The Southern Theater Proscenium in Columbus, Ohio, before the Eileen Ivers concert with the Promusica Chamber Orchestra (May, 2007)