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Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory Of The Web Hardcover – March 26, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0738205434 ISBN-10: 0738205435 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738205435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738205434
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #938,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined does not merely celebrate the World Wide Web; it attempts to make a case that the institution has completely remodeled many of the world's self-perceptions. The book does so entertainingly, if not convincingly, and is a lively collection of epigrammatic phrases (the Web is "'place-ial' but not spatial"; "on the Web everyone will be famous to 15 people"), as well as illustrations of these changes. There are intriguing assertions: that the Web is "broken on purpose" and that its many pockets of erroneous information and its available forums for disputing, say, manufacturers' hyperbole, let people feel more comfortable with their own inherent imperfections. At other times the book seems stale: it declares that the Web has disrupted long-held axioms about time, space, and knowledge retrieval and that it has dramatically rearranged notions of community and individuality. Weinberger's analysis, though occasionally facile and too relentlessly optimistic and overstated, is surely destined to be the subject of furious debate in chat rooms the cyber-world over. --H. O'Billovich

From Publishers Weekly

Weinberger (coauthor, The Cluetrain Manifesto) mixes popular philosophy and middle-aged-white-male experience to explore his simple Internet thesis: the Web permits people to connect based on soul, not body, and the importance of the Web is not economic, but spiritual. A philosophy professor turned marketing guy turned writer, Weinberger boasts an extremely likable mainstream intellectual persona, flashes of insight and genuine literary talent. But the aspect of his personality that drives this book his first solo effort is his tendency to question. "Yes, I am undeniably a 45-55 white suburban male, but it's demeaning to see it put down on paper as if that made me like every other 45-55 white guy trapped in the suburbs," he says, in a passage about demographics gathered by scheming marketers. "And while it may be statistically true that we 45-55 white suburban males will boost our spending on erasable pens if we see a sexy babe touch one to her lips in an ad, we resent the notion that we're programmable." With touchy-feely chapter titles like "Perfection," "Togetherness," "Matter" and "Hope," Weinberger leads readers through an exploration of the Web's implications beyond Amazon.com. And if his concepts at times smack of New Age sensitivity, they are, in a way, accurate. Weinberger, a frequent commentator on NPR's All Things Considered, celebrates the Internet's gift to its users: permission to be an individual in a virtual world we can tailor to our passionate, idea-driven taste. In writing about the Web, Weinberger has written about himself his own soul and his own unwieldy and evolving comprehension of the world.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Howdy. Here are some places you can learn about me, if for some odd reason you care:

Joho the Blog:

http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger

Overall home page:

http://www.evident.com

Cluetrain:

http://www.cluetrain.com

(Apparently these descriptions don't like HTML!)

Customer Reviews

This is the book that will help you understand the Internet.
Bob Magnant
He helps us begin to see how the Internet makes us powerful, how every routine interaction changes the world, to a degree, how that realization changes everything.
Ken Freed (GlobalSense.info)
A great morning read and worthy enough to warrant additional reading from this talented author.
Darryl Parker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Harvey Ardman on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If John Perry Barlow is the Internet's prophet and Sherry Turkle is its anthropologist, by writing "Small Pieces, Loosely Joined," David Weinberger has become its first cosmologist, its Stephen Hawking.
In this slender, very readable and sometimes laugh-out-loud book, Weinberger examines the meaning, impact and use of the Internet with great insight and wisdom. He left me understanding how profoundly important the Internet is and how deeply it is affecting our society. It's not just another technological advance...it changes everything.
I realize that some people just don't get it, won't get it and can't get it, despite the crystal clarity of Weinberger's prose. But some people never get it.
Even Alexander Graham Bell was initially convinced the phone would be best used for transmitting music over long distances and I believe there was a fellow by the name of Watson who predicted the US would never need more than five computers. If Weinberger had been around then and writing books about telephoine and computers, they might have better understood the potential of their creations.
If you want to understand what the Internet means for us today and what it might mean tomorrow, I can think of no better basis than "Small Pieces Loosely Joined." His ideas will resonate in your mind long after you've finished the book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. K. M. Adam on May 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Thanks to The Newspaper of Record, we now know that Web is boring; the Web has gotten old, and the frontier thrills of exploration and discovery have evaporated. Fortunately, no one told David Weinberger.
Weinberger's book Small Pieces, Loosely Joined proposes not only that the Web isn't boring, but that the excitement is only just beginning. We haven't missed the main event, only the previews of coming attractions.
He sees the promise of greater things yet to come in the ways that culture's engagement with the Web has already begun to influence the English language. He adopts seven key terms ("space," "time," "perfection," togetherness," "knowledge," "matter," and "hope") and illustrates the ways that their conventional usage might be seen to apply simply and directly to the Web. Then he goes further to show how these terms warp and crack with the torsion engendered by their roles in articulating Web experiences. After they have circulated online, these terms return to colloquial use with changed textures--space, perfection, hope, all signify very differently after their circulation on the Web.
Weinberger gracefully invites technological newcomers into the party. He has a gift for epigrammatic phrases, and regularly summarizes his exposition in memorable sound bites. He cites both familiar and less well-known examples of ways the Web has changed over its brief history, and of ways the Web has changed us. The heart of the book, however, lies in Weinberger's ardent affirmation of the positive possibilities that the Web opens for humanity. Without concealing the seamier dimensions of the Web, he urges readers to take up the opportunity to be better people in new ways, online.
Thus far one might construe the book--at the prompting of its title--as a new, improved theory of the Web.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bob Magnant on October 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined is a modern classic. And while it had inspired my own writing about the Internet, I had somehow failed to share that fact with others. His 'unified theory of the web' touched upon some of the most positive aspects of the web's essence and that truly moved me. It made me more optimistic about the Internet, about its future and about its positive implications for us all. In his words, "The web has hit our culture with a force unlike that of any modern technology" but he also noted that "at no point is the web merely technology." He describes the web as extending our senses of hearing and sight. But it's also creating a new, persistent public space where our extended bodies can go. His message of the web as a medium is this: Ultimately, matter doesn't matter. If we can be together so successfully in a world that has no atoms, no space, no uniform time, no management, and no control, then maybe we've been wrong about what matters in the real world in the first place." Each chapter offers some extremely interesting thoughts that deserve a great deal of consideration.

You might ask about Facebook, MySpace or any of the social networks today? Weinberger was first to describe the web as a social place that's been constructed voluntarily out of our passion to show others how the world looks to us; he sees those billions of pages as the social expression of this passion. These websites were built because their authors cared enough about something to take the time to write it down. The bits on the web are only bits because they are both physical and mental at the same time.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. David Evans on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Small Pieces Loosely Joined" is one of the books that I was really excited to read. Great subject. Great author. And sure enough, within each chapter, I has some really thoughtful moments. But on balance--and maybe this was intentional--the overall connection just seemed missing (as if the chapters were loosely joined...). As a set of short stories, the chapters are provacative. Overall though it left me wanting a bit more. A good book for a slow afternoon...and hey, there's really nothing wrong with that.
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