Well, we’re done with the Hunger Games, and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is so 2011. But backyards and beaches beckon—what’s a knowledge geek to read in the sun?
Plenty, as it turns out! Over the next week and a bit, I’ll be sharing one favorite book a day that I’ve read in the past few months (although some have been out for longer.)
I’m going to start with my absolute favorite: “2b2k.”
I admit it: I generally don’t like books about knowledge. As an every-day-in-the-trenches knowledge practitioner, I generally find them either hopelessly academic or breathtakingly obvious. So I was gobsmacked by this book, both deftly written and profound. It would have been excellent entertainment, except for the fact that it upended a lifetime’s worth of assumptions about knowledge, and especially authoritative knowledge.
The book’s premise is that the way we have approached knowledge is an unhelpful hangover from a world of scarcity. The filtering mechanisms we use to whittle the world’s information down to the very most authoritative knowledge have far more to do with the limited supply of paper and shelf space than the way that knowledge works in the real world. Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Weinberger argues that accepting the inevitability of information overload, and developing mechanisms to filter forward the most relevant, is the only productive way of engaging with the world.
In a Too Big to Know world, curation is replaced by an unbounded network of links: links from assertions to the facts that support them to the sources for those facts. And also, links to the assertions’ counterarguments and their networks of facts. He explores the implications of abundant knowledge in in many disciplines: policymaking, science, books, and leadership, to name a few.
As a KCS advocate, the idea of moving from scarcity to abundance, and from authority to relevance, is satisfying and nearly self-evident…in knowledge bases. And “the world’s knowledge is doubling every X years” is a familiar theme. Still, applying these same big ideas to the wider world is unsettling. I’m looking forward to reading this again next year after a little soak time—it’s an excuse for more time at the beach, right?
ps – It’s not QUITE like being at the beach, but at least it’s bicoastal. If there’s someone on your team who should get the KCS bug, especially if they’re near Silicon Valley or Boston, check out our July 10-12 workshop. New: get KCS Practices Certified before you leave!