A Unified Theory of the Web for Technophobes

“We haven’t begun to understand how the connected world will shape our lives at a level deeper than commerce and conversation. Weinberger takes on the harder, deeper questions of values, social norms, and individual behavior that will be the Internet’s real legacy.”

– Christopher Meyer on Weinberger’s “Small Pieces Loosely Joined”

 I’m a self-confessed technphobe who is recently just coming out of her cave. Up until five or six years ago, I’ve shunned the Internet. But eventually, it was something that opened itself to me and I realized not just how much I could explore but what I could be just by exploring the Web.

Last month, I was extremely happy to discover in a pile of secondhand books (sold for Php 99 and it was on a buy one, take one promo) David Weinberger’s Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web. My nerd instincts kicked in when I read the title – a unified theory of the web? Jackpot! Sorry, I’m a sucker for nonfiction and for anybody who tries to explain the philosophy behind certain things. It also doesn’t hurt that the cover introduced Weinberger as the co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, a book that was mentioned a lot in Jeff Jarvis’ What Would Google Do? (Now that’s another book worthy of another blog post – maybe when I find the time to read it again.)

In his book, Small Pieces Loosely Joined, Weinberger describes the phenomenon that the Internet and the Web created. They are rapidly changing our understanding of what puts things together. They are rocking the very foundation in which our world was built on. Reality in the physical world and reality in the web – how do they meet? How do they conflict? And how are these two seemingly different things taking apart our basic principles and beliefs about the way the world works? These are some of the questions that the book tries to address. It challenges our beliefs about time, space, matter, knowledge and sense of community.

Weinberger presents these arguments using everyday examples flavored with wit and light humor. One doesn’t have to be a geek to understand these concepts (maybe just a nerd ;p). He brings technology into a new light – he makes it something we can all relate to, something more humane.

The “architecture” of the Web may sometimes be quite tricky and confusing. Maybe we haven’t thought about our journey through these web of links and data. But our world is changing and maybe it’s time to evaluate our basic beliefs about what keeps the world together and the ideas that will shape tomorrow.

Let’s get ready to explore the information highway!

“The hype about the Web hasn’t been unwarranted, only misdirected. The conversation I believe we need to have is about what the Web is showing us about ourselves. What is true to our nature and what only looked that way because it was a response to a world that was, until now, the only one we had?”

– David Weinberger


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