This weekend I was reading few chapters from Weinberger’s book “Everything is Miscellaneous: the Power of the New Digital Disorder”. I think this book opens new horizons for thinkers and dreamers because it contains philosophical questions and ideas. For me philosophy is when people don’t know right answer and try to think a lot about possible solutions of a problem and their consequences. Therefore, in this post I will share with my “philosophical” thoughts of Weinberger’s ideas.
In chapter five Weinberger says, “The basic fact that order often hides more than it reveals has sometimes itself been hidden within the art and science of organizing our world” (P. 88). The author means that order is also complex. I totally agree with Weinberger because when I look at my iPod, for example, I see how nice and simple it looks like. I feel that I can control it. When I turn it on, I see the desktop with many tags. It looks very organized and understandable for me. However, when I start clicking at tags, they open doors to many other options. New options and information require higher concentration and thinking. Thereby, now iPod may not look very simple because a person should know how to deal with excessive information in order to categorize and control it.
Moreover, if we look at iPod as a mechanical system, I am sure that about 95% of ordinary people won’t understand how iPod works. However, an engineer who develops iPod will come and say that this system has a certain order, but for us this order is not simple anymore because it looks more complex, complicated, and even miscellaneous. Then, there is a question of who does really create, categorize, and control information? There is no concrete answer because almost nobody knows the answer. Thereby, to get a possible answer, we should philosophize.
Technologies change the way of how information is created, organized, and controlled. For instance, even though Weinberger says that new technologies allow people create information and control it, there is a higher level of influence such as social “expertise”, mentioned by Weinberger as well. I totally agree with the author because I am sure that everyone has some power to control information, but the question is more about influence and skills. For instance, when I write posts on my Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress pages, I create and control information which I publish. Doing this I have a feeling of total control, but it is illusion. Anyway, I think what is appropriate and what is not. Moreover, I read comments and evaluate reactions of my friends to my posts. Thereby, I won’t publish information if I don’t get social support. If nobody reads my posts or looks at my pictures, then I am motivated to change the way I organize my information. I think that social influence creates a certain hierarchy of control. Everyone can influence some part of information, but at the same time everyone is limited at some point. It is like sharing an apple with your friends, but if the apple is not delicious a few friends will eat it. This analogy is also relevant to Weinberger’s idea with editors who also control information at professional world of fiction and nonfiction. It is obvious that editors also are influenced by readers. Editors won’t deal with and publish books which won’t be bought. Thereby, we can say that the highest influence of control at social hierarchy belongs to readers or consumers of information.
Another question is reliability of information or its “essentialism” according to Weinberger. I think it is critical nowadays. I liked the author’s idea of gatekeepers or filterers. I think that new technologies today increase the influence of the second group of gatekeepers such as social expertise. The first group of filterers is developing much slower because more and more information appears every second and professional gatekeepers cannot physically manage everything. Therefore, we have a problem of accuracy of information. I faced with this problem when I made a research for my rhetoric class in fall semester. I saw many articles which manipulate a reader. For example, USA Today often writes bright stories which show one side of a problem. Moreover, these articles don’t show the whole reality because one story is not the whole country. Therefore, people who don’t know much about a real situation will believe the newspaper. Another example is articles published by anonymous authors. These authors write sometimes rhetorically good papers, but facts and statistics they show not always correspond to reality. Weinberger mentions Wikipedia which is not reliable source of information because everyone can write there. In contrary, Britannica may be more reliable source because gatekeepers or people who have expert knowledge at a certain field publish there their articles. I think all this is relevant because even experts sometimes tend to manipulate or make mistakes. Miscellaneous era doesn’t accept only one way of doing things. The world is complex and complicated, therefore there is no one answer. However, I believe that the world needs expert filterers because it provides more benefits than loses. Many people say that if you want to find the truth, listen to many opinions and facts and maybe you will find something similar to the truth. I think it really works because expert gatekeepers also can make mistakes or manipulate and social learning is limited as well because of lack of expert knowledge at a certain field. Thereby, I believe that today every person should know how to search for information using critical thinking.
Finally, even though the world becomes miscellaneous and order may be complex and complicated as well, people find ways to figure out whom to believe and how manage information. Professional gatekeepers and social expertise may show right directions to people who learn how to orient among abundant information. However, we should always remember that there is no one specific answer nowadays.