Reading Response to: “The Work of Knowledge”


“Discussing differences while standing on a shared ground, we work towards understanding.” Philosophers are lonely thinkers.  Through conversations things that we know are not “interesting to talk about.” In a conversation our thoughts are released less edited, versus the philosopher’s paper that is well thought through. “Paper drives thought into our head” while “web releases thoughts before they are complete, so we can work on them together.”  It is understood that we are not going to stay in a single, unified, “true, inescapable, and final knowledge of all that is.”  What powerful words. Realistic and true to the nature of the miscellaneous universe.

Miscellaneous universe is interesting and non-unitary.  The mess of the conversation is believed to create shared knowledge.  In comparison to Howard Dean’s campaign, it is the “letting go” that developed a sense of shared knowledge and trust by the voters, that is why it went as far as it did, but, David says, Dean lost because of the policy, organizational and personal reasons.


“Genius is topical.”  If a person is a genius in one thing, it does not mean she is going to be such in others.  We would question one person if she or he claims to be an expert on a field that has a sea of books, yet the field of inquiry that is too narrow is not going to be and accredited field of study.

Books, too, are valued accordingly to their content.  But books are limited to the physical properties.  Britannica, famous for its editorial content “picks its topics carefully” as it “must save room for it whatever else goes” (p 206), but the online encyclopedia Wikipedia does not have that problem.

However, the two works have very different structures.  One is a top-heavy one to many approach (Britannica), whereas the other is many to many, its knowledge becomes great when many people combine their knowing on the subject.  Social knowledge.

One of the physical disadvantages of print, is its limit in space, so, the topic can not go on forever.  Wikipedia does not have that problem, the links that sow the topics together introduce endless sprawl of information and contribute to miscellaneous.  Britannica maybe well edited and each topic show the genius of its author, the longer it is, Wikipedia contributes to the passion and interest of individuals when it gets longer.  As topics “bust out of their bindings” throughout the text in Wikipedia, Britannica provides us with reference to the articles at the end of its article, an afterthought.

In the miscellaneous order, the topics are anything anyone may have interest in.  Anything can be blogged, created, or posted in Wikipedia and immediately the text “miscellanizes” itself with links leading away from the topic.  This sparks an interest and makes it a fun site contributing to the further search for knowledge and understanding.


Knowledge is not simple in the “miscellanized world.”  As the book shows knowledge in politics, marketing and science is forced to be simplified.  Politicians make speeches, introduce problems and provide possible solutions for us.  Marketers provide us simple slogans for the products, scientists explain to us simple formulas applied to the universe.  But the minute it hits the internet, every idea is dissected, discussed, digested, and complexified.


Facts – that about which we no longer argue – compared to nails, they hold our understanding together and in order.  The knowledge is becoming a commodity  – some good for which there is a demand.  Google and Wikipedia commoditizes the knowledge, and the internet makes it available at one click of a button.  Commoditization of knowledge “frees us to understand.”  We understand something when we see how pieces are put together.  David says: “Understanding is metaknowledge.”


Class work: lecture notes on Social Knowing, etc.

  • Examining an academic database
  • social knowing
  • publish then filter
  • lab exercise

Books we think of being static, concrete tangible things we get answers.  But over time, books are a slower conversation or a forum on the topic, then today’s blogs, and forums.

Information cloud-editor-publisher-distribute-consumer.

information cloud-users as editors – communities – users as users

The big cloud of information goes directly to the reader, readers are also not differentiated from the writers.  This is culturally important.  Digital culture is different from print culture in that sense that the readers are the writers and the writers are the readers in digital culture.  But giving everyone a voice does not always makes the conversation interesting.

This cloud, this tower of info could become problematic.  How can we make meaning out of all of the information.  Finding the methods to deal with that is the key.  Tagging, overtime improves itself, as people tag, they learn from each other.

Information overload – is an old term… even before the social media was dominating the internet. Is it a filtering problem?  According to (?) it is…   filter is putting the right amount of information how do we tell that we have received enough.  the processes we use to evaluate the information is more important to be aware of that information then in the past.

Filters are important, sites like digg, dellicious, flikr, YouTube, and other social sites become interesting.  They are solving some of the filtering problems.  They found the way to get people the info the people are looking for without going over a ton of information.  Authorities and editors are filters, there are other sort of filters – however the above new media sites are not authoritative as much as the previous.


authority vs. social knowing that arises from the conversation or a collaborative efforts  this is like a peer review process in the scientific journal on the mass scale.

reputation and authority.

how do you establish a reputation – analyzing.  Finished author reports.  Many reports bring a competition.  One report is better then the other, but the measure of reputation is from being a single author to rich collaborator.

the bad side for that is the responsibility, or the accountability that is lost, who do you blame if the document is wrong?  Reward structure – getting paid – for music and video – many people are creators today, but who is complaining the most about it today?  Music and video industries…

who owns what part of contribution is difficult to tell.

there is a balance between the editors and the 10s of thousands of people who produce things.

Immature content – enthusiast content.  if we have all this am cont. that is replacing the specialty made product.

web 2.0  clay shirky

story of transformation — industrial revolution — libraries, museums, etc. did not happen until people started to think as the industrialists…

WWII – raising social.

cognitive surplus as an asset, rather than crisis.

where do people find the time – which comes from the cognitive surplus.  Wiki 100mil. hours of thought.  TV watching – 200 bil.hours of watching TV.  In the US – 100 mil. hours watching adds.  Architecture of participation.  Surplus – at the beginning you don’t know how to use it, until you experiment with it.  The early phase is tasting the water.

media in 20th cent run as a single phase – how much can we produce how can we consume.  But media is there are people who like to

today’s general assumption is that media that does not include your participation is not worth watching or participating.

we are looking for a mouse on a TV.  Passive, Fixed, Canned experience, if we carve out a cognitive surplus out of that, we going to make it better.

communication tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.

for the paper that is due on the 20th:


Make a clear distinction in your head between what the content is and what the structure is.  The easiest way to look at that, that the content is the stuff, the structure is the organization that holds the stuff.  Part of the organization is the metadata.  How does it work is what Nick is interested the most.

Look at help and support.  Google your database and read the information ABOUT the content and the structure of the database.  Index terms, controlled vocabulary, is it native to the database, is it particular vocabulary.  Find a page about the database from a group that created it.  Wiki would be a good source to see what it says about this particular tool.  All of this research will help to write a good paper.

ORGANIZATION – sample record, how it is searched – quick search, advanced search, etc.  look in the help section, why this tool exists, what is it good for? search database name under