Reading Response to: “The Geography of Knowledge”

Chapter 3 reflection:

Leave it up to religion, specifically Christianity, to become a problem… aside my personal views, this chapter has broadened my understanding on the issue of categorizing and information sorting methods.

For me the decimal system of Melvil Dewey mean absolutely nothing, I understand a number is assigned, but how does it get assigned, I have no clue, and something tells me, I would get a “museum headache” trying to comprehend it.  For a librarian this may come across as ignorant, but I promise, I will do my best to understand it.

On the other hand, I would have to agree with Dewey on the metric system.  Why? O, why America had to have these inches, miles, feet, pounds, quarts, and ounces?  As I understand it, Dewey’s decimal system, although maybe making sense, it does not seem very user friendly for physical cataloging.  Military music, when searching for it, should be in military and not in music.  Or should it?  Dilemma…   Digital comes to the rescue, but does not solve the problem completely.

I really appreciate the concept of customer reviews.  Not only the books will be more interesting, but Amazon takes it even further by adding other books that one may potentially like.  Amazon keeps the information about what other people liked and purchased along with the the book that has been searched for.  Ingenious!  Books that would be scattered across the Dewey’s library are brought together by Amazon in one click, and not because of the topics, but because of the statistical data (some people looked at this book as well as the other one for this search).

Filtering and algorithms “undreamed” by Dewey used to narrow the input and maximize the output of the Digital bookstore.  It searches and pulls together titles of “statistically interesting phrases.”  I admire the phrase in this chapter: “Statistically constructed paths through the geography of knowledge” This formula (whatever it is) really broadens the results of the search and takes you to places that you may not even imagined before.  Listmania is another awesome way of advertising titles.

Amazon has gone far beyond the single approach of Dewey’s clustering.  Amazon finds new methods and implements them into their site.  That makes a whole lot of difference: Dewey’s metric system of tens is just a single, numerical order, where as Amazon’s system is more fluid, organic-like, social, personalized search.  Its like having ten librarians help you at the the same time, without inhaling a toxic white cloud.

I really enjoyed how David Winberger brought the end of the chapter back to the first second and third order of order, explaining the difference and providing a good comparison in how physical orders are not about being “provincial,” or out of style, but really how the first two orders are top-down approach, whereas, the usefulness of a third order is in its “miscellaniousness.”

Reading Response to: “The New Order of Order” & “Alphabetization & Its Discontent”

Chapter 1 – “The New Order of Order”

great first chapter! it talks about the three order of orders: Sorting, Cataloging and Digitizing. The bits define gravity, they are easier to search through and they are by far more sustainable then the first two ways of order.

Everything has its place, every book, product, item, pin, button, track of an album and the album itself. I always believed the order is the most important thing to have in order to, for example, make it a good experience for browsing at the store, or be able to find something easily. There is even a saying. “Better put-away, easier found” don’t know where it came from, but it works. Electronic media made it possible for that order to become miscellaneous. Apple’s creation iTunes library in my computer is even able to match the music that I am playing and pick the “right” mix to the next song. It is simply amazing! However, everything has an order, even if the order is by miscellaneous.

Order by miscellaneous is second nature to us. We simply don’t know it yet. But if one look at it closer, we are miscellaneous creatures, we don’t look alike, yet our bodies are identical in their structure. The life itself is a miscellaneous order or, one may say, it’s a controlled chaos. Our nature is to reproduce that chaos, or to reflect it in our lives, we are made to organize and reorganize and reorganize over again. The first chapter says that knowing where things are and where they go is important to us and this is what makes us feel “home,” because organization is our second nature (to some more than to others). In order to “keep it up” we organize, and then we store the information in a digital catalog for later use.

The organization is subdivided into three categories. First order of order is the physical sorting of things what they are. Second order of order is a catalog of descriptions and information about those objects. Third order of order is a digital catalog. The last order defies physical laws. It is fluid; it has better usability and more practicality. It is less time consuming and more productive. Finally, the third order of order is more sustainable than the first or second (physical orders). Most importantly, the Third order is a user-defined order, so it is not using professional catalogers; nevertheless, it is easy to find an image using their search engine.

Chapter 2 – “Alphabetization & Its Discontent”

The second chapter further deepens the discussion of order, or to be more specific, of its “discontent.” It does not matter what language one uses to collect things, the problem becomes more obvious when we try to explain the way nature works and weather it has an order. The alphabetical order is something that is not defining the nature of a subject. Language is made of alphabet, and can be considered as second order, where one may describe a subject or a collection of subject according to their properties. But, to my understanding, the properties themselves are redefined and there is no order, after all. “In a perfect world” of Christianity, or any other religion for this matter, the unstable formula of a chain hierarchy prevents that perfect world from its own existence. The world is simply very stiff and missing its joints, which science is trying to define and connect.

In conclusion, one can not define a particular order to everything. Even as solid as one may think the Mendeleev’s periodic table is, it still is only a second-order catalog of elements, so far discovered. But nothing is final in the third order of orders, the digital world is meant to connect information in multiple ways, miscellaneously, unimagined before its existence.