Thursday, May 3, 2007

The government doesn't like miscellany

Boing Boing posted a review yesterday of a new book by philosopher, technologist and Web commentator David Weinberger, best known for his book and Web site called The Cluetrain Manifesto. His latest book, subject of the Boing Boing review, is called Everything is Miscellaneous, which looks like required reading for anybody interested in the sociological effects of social media.

According to the review, "Weinberger's thesis is this: historically, we've divided the world into categories, topics, and hierarchies because physical objects need to be in one place or another, they can't be in all the places they might belong. Computers and the Internet turn this on its head: because a computer can "put things" in as many categories as they need to be in, because individuals can classify knowledge, tasks, and objects idiosyncratically, the hierarchy is revealed for what it always was, a convenient expedient masquerading as the True Shape of the Universe."

It's the next part of the review that I found so relevant to our considerations of government in the face of social media and Web 2.0. It says, "It's a powerful idea: from org charts to science, from music to retail theory, from government to education, every field of human endeavor is tinged with hierarchy, and every hierarchy is under assault from the Internet."

Yet more evidence to support the idea that we need to subvert our traditional top-down command and control models when considering the bureacracy in a socially-networked world.