Skip to main content

"Everything is miscellaneous" , podcast interview, D. Weinberger

"Dave Weinberger Interview - Everything is Miscellaneous" from Kathleen Gilroy

Podcast interview with Dave about his new book. It is a deep look at why things are unfolding in new and surprising ways on the web.

From, Dave's blog...

May-June 2007, ...a series of podcasts about topics in my book, Everything Is Miscellaneous. They were posted at The Berkman Center and at, complete with transcripts. Here's a list of them:

Cory "BoingBoing, Activist, Writer" Doctorow

Markos "DailyKos" Zuniga

Arianna "HuffingontPost" Huffington

Neil DeGrasse "Astrophysicist" Tyson

Jimmy "Wikipedia" Wales

Craig "sList" Newmark

Paul "Kayak" English

Richard "BBC World Service" Sambrook


Snagged from a review on Amazon...


David Weinberger, internet visionary, has again synthesized an intellectual romp through another important topic - Information. We, humans, are obsessed with defining, categorizing and organizing information as our way of bringing some order to the chaotic world we live in.
Weinberger explores our obsession with information from Plato and Aristotle to our modern-day digital explosion of information.
He frames this exploration by defining 3 orders of organizing information:

1) 1st Order organization is of the physical world, manipulating physical objects and organizing them,
2) 2nd Order of organization is the use of metadata to organize and categorize physical objects i.e. library card catalogs. This is still limited by physical constraints.
3) 3rd Order of organization is the world we live in today, as we move from the physical to the digital, organizing information becomes freed from physical constraints allows us to simultaneously define, categorize and organize information into a million different taxonomies.

The 1st and 2nd orders of organization are covered as Weinberger explores the history of our obsession with categorizing information; from Plato's `Joints of Nature', to Aristotle's `Trees of Knowledge'. We have been lumping and splitting information for thousands of years. Until recently we have been constrained by the laws of physics, it is hard for objects to be in two places. It is also hard to categorize the real world into orderly taxonomies i.e. what category does a duck-billed-platypus fit into?

The 3rd order organization is what Weinberger is referring to in his title, `Everything is Miscellaneous'. In a world where we can organize information any way we want, nothing needs to be categorized per-se and everything can live in a state of limbo in the miscellaneous category until we need it and then, and only then, does it need to be grouped, filtered, sorted for our immediate consumption.

The 3rd order world has freed information and people to categorize information anyway they want. It is no longer an academic exercise to come up with taxonomies. With tools like Digg,, Flickr etc. we slice and dice the world of information to our personal needs.

Understanding this digital disorder we live in and how we cope is the ultimate point of this book. True to form, Weinberger has given us a wealth of information to ultimately understand where we are today and how to build the tools to cope in the future.

From Speed Media Blog, On-Site at Supernova 2007

David covers a lot of ground in the book but I'd like to focus on the observation he makes about information overload. He says that the way to solve the overload problem (think 13bn web pages and growing) is to feed more information to the user. It's a powerful, yet counter intuitive, idea to which I'd like to add a branch or extension.

My extension is that users face a different kind of information selection problem depending upon where they stand in the consumption lifecycle. Specifically, that the overload problem is much more acute later on in the lifecycle than in the beginning.