Customer Reviews: Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
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on August 6, 2012
Relativism is the doctrine that knowledge or truth exist in relation to culture, society, or previous situations, and are not absolute. After wading through 1/3 of the book, and after numerous anecdotes and illustrations, you are left with the FACT that relativism is a flawed theory. Consensus is not what makes something true or false. The author never got beyond trying to legitimise relativism, and fails in the attempt.

There were some interesting ways of looking at facts and how they are established. The need to communicate with others to gain perspective was also helpful.
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on September 4, 2014
David Weinberger's book covers epistemology in the digital age, and there's no question that he is passionate about the subject and has a deep and multifaceted grasp of all its nuances. Unfortunately I found his writing style to be both breathless and turgid, the lexical equivalent of sucking up a bowl of hot oatmeal with a straw. One of his main points seemed to be the idea that everything is better when connected to a network, but I remain skeptical.
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on June 30, 2012
I'm pretty fussy when it comes to books. Sorry if this sounds arrogant: but being fairly well read - I don't like wading through a lot of rhetorical fluff. This book only has one very, very good insight: that the word "fact" did not enter the English language until the scientific revolution - before that there were universals and particulars. Another good insight is that with so many (internet accessible) facts at hand - any (abstract) opinion can be refuted. If this idea were expanded to try to categorize the world views under which buttressing facts are assembled - and perhaps what personalities are drawn to these world views, then the book would have been excellent. Far too much of the book however, is made up of over emphasizing how condensed and ubiquitous information is compared to bygone days (example after example after example...), and the book draws some weak analogies trying to sell the idea that the networked information of the internet in itself somehow constitutes a world view/mental framework. Overall, the book is not worth buying.
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on August 25, 2015
This book is neither illuminating nor penetrating in its "insights" about knowledge in our times. It's not scholarly enough to act as a reliable reference. The audience it's written for appears to be middlebrow marketers who need a few soundbites for their advertising conference presentations. Overall, an unimpressive performance.
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on June 8, 2014
This book argues that the Net is not making us more stupid, that the Net actually is changing what it means to be informed. Like all changes, some of the things people like may go away (traditional newspapers and magazines), replaced by new media. We are no longer bounded by the limitations of paper. If you work in Information Sciences, I think this is required reading.
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on January 19, 2013
While I read many books, I rarely take the time to write a review, as I'm a bit intimidated by the erudite, lengthy summaries of the book, but for those who may have ADHD, or limited time, a few thoughts on my experience in reading this wonderful and challenging book.

As one who's worked in health care as a provider and a collaborator for over 35 years, I've taken the opportunity to read books on many topics, from the basics of health care, to delving into populist books which may not attract other physicians, or at least didn't. (The Tipping Point, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Theory U, Leadership on the Line, Subliminal, Incognito, The Upside of Irrationality, Nudge, Six Degrees of Separation--the list goes on. and on)

This book is a great discussion of the changing focus of managing (perhaps not the correct term) knowledge in today's world of exploding information and connectivity. As a person who many think is well read, and extremely knowledgeable, I have this underlying anxiety of being a fraud, as I recognize through all my readings that the amount of information/knowledge I've consumed is far less than what I've been exposed to. While many comment on my terrific memory, it's pathetic that in reality, I know very little.

That's why this book is a valuable and worthy tome to helping the reader to begin to understand that in today's world, it is "too big to know." We can't use our past experiences and expertise to manage the knowledge now exploding all around us.

Weinberger cleverly and carefully lays out how we need to rethink knowledge--moving from trying to limit what we need to know, to expanding our ability to benefit from the knowledge around us. But for all of those who value their credentials, their expertise, their personal value as one who "has the answers" be aware this will challenge many of your long held beliefs.

I'll not go into detail regarding the content (after all, you need to see it from your perspective), but in my role as Chief Knowledge Officer of a health care collaborative (yes, truly one of the great job titles in health care), I now have a different perspective on what my role should be, the need to consider networks, Internet usage, diversity, and knowledge as actually an attribute of the network, not the nodes of information of any one participant.

I want to thank Weinberger for providing me with another perspective which will greatly enhance my understanding of the challenges faced by us in managing the knowledge needed to improve our world, but for also making me aware of the incredibly complex issues we need to confront. But that's the facts, just the facts...or is it?
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on July 18, 2013
This is discourse analysis as it should be written. This book makes you see the world in a new way. The subject of the book is the way in which human knowledge and thoughts are structured by the medium in which they are delivered. With the web that medium has changed and so has everything else. I particularly liked the way Weinberger points out that the physical limitations of the printed book, has defined knowledge for the past several hundred years. I have written a book, but I did not think of that way until he pointed it out. Also the style is clear and easily readable, proving once again that the best philosophers can present profound ideas in simple language.
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on May 21, 2014
David Weinber captured my imagination in this book, Too Big to Know. It sort of makes a big juicy stew from the world's literature, arts and science books and blogs and wikis and anything that can be digitally cataloged. The author unpacks the obsolete "long form" enclyopedia written by "experts", and shows how limiting libraries can be, when librarians decide what books are displayed on shelves. Books are described as "long form" logical sequences, read from beginning to end, to understand the author's knowledge. The World Wide Web moves knowledge to an unlimited network. The World Wide Web is unstructured by the use of hyperlinks. Anyone can contribute and collaborate to all manner of knowledge, and of course, link to other articles of knowledge to enhance the author's views. For example, you can read all of the reviews written here about this one book (both favorable and unfavorable) and find some collective knowledge from the diverse opinions.
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on April 20, 2012
This is a great book and a perfect complement to `Reinventing Discovery'. Weinberger explores the concept of knowledge as it became defined in practice within the age of the limited resources of `paper'. How paper required intense processes and structures of filtering in order to fit what was known or posited into the limited space of paper texts. This gave us a powerful illusion that the world was `knowable'. Science published primarily results that were confirming hypotheses - and the vast experiments and efforts that resulted in `negative' results had no room in the finite space. Despite the fact that a great deal of utility could be derived from being able to look at results that were less successful in confirming hypotheses. Weinberger explodes the epistemic fiction of the data-information-knowledge pyramid for what it is - a fiction arising from the economic framework that would have knowledge endorse a control hierarchy.

What the Internet now enables is the disclosing of everything - positive and negative. This reveals the tremendously `contested' nature of all knowledge - reveals the larger unknowability of the world/universe. What science is - is not certain knowledge, but rather a paradox of both more robust theories and an even vaster horizon of unknowns. No matter how much we know - the horizon of the unknowns recedes faster to vaster spaces. I highly recommend this book - for anyone interested in knowledge and the digital environment.
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on January 15, 2016
It's value comes from making you think about the impacts of massive data. He presents the opportunities, as well as the pitfalls, in a balanced manner.
I think his main point is that humans will need to adapt to data surplus, just as we have adapted to all the other revolutions in communications and science.
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