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.”