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Friday, August 31, 2007

One More Summer Reading Assignment

So Labor Day is coming up this weekend in the US and you are looking for one last beach read. I would recommend Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger.

It is insightful and very funny. In fact, he writes much as he speaks. I saw him present this past spring and was entertained and enlightened.

The idea behind the book? Explaining how the digital age now allows us (humans) to categorize information in as many ways as we could possibly imagine as opposed to older ways of organizing information which was restricted to one dimension because of physical space requirements.

As Wienberger writes in one of the chapters: "The remarkable fact is that we have built systems for understanding the universe using the same technique we use for putting away our laundry: Split the lump of cleaned clothes by family member, split each family members' lumps by body part, then perhaps split by work or play, by season, or by color." All very hierarchical and authority focused...there is one system for classifying plants and animals, one for the elements of the Earth. A single "authoritative" view.

Learning and development professionals view training and development the same way. We categorize by topic, chapter, lesson, objective, page (screen), etc. We have one path through information, we create linear lessons. But people (employees, learners) don't want to access information that way...they want to access it anyway they want in ways that we cannot possibly predict.

Again, Wienberger writes, "It's not whom you report to and who reports to you or how you filter someone else's experience. It's how messily you are connected and how thick with meaning are the links. It's not what you know, and its' not even who you know. It's how much knowledge you give away. Hoarding knowledge diminishes your power because it diminishes your presence."

Wow, isn't that what Web 2.0 is all about. Giving away knowledge to make the organization and the individual stronger.

Good read. You can order a copy below.


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