- Series: Hayden/Que
- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: Que; 2nd edition (December 28, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0789724103
- ISBN-13: 978-0789724106
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Information Anxiety 2 (Hayden/Que) Paperback – December 28, 2000
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Information might want to be free; but, why should we free it? We've got enough trouble keeping track of all the petabits that already run around untethered, and risk a computer counterrevolution if we let the situation get much crazier. Information architect Richard Saul Wurman swept the field clear in 1989 with his groundbreaking book that foresaw the problems of data clutter and proposed a radical new means of organizing and presenting knowledge humanistically; for the new century, he has revised it substantially as Information Anxiety 2. This book is sparklingly clear and readable--it'd better be, after all--and offers insight not only to designers, educators, and content developers, but also to anyone who needs to communicate effectively through dense clouds of facts. If Wurman occasionally indulges in New Age-y pop psychology, his analysis is never muddy, and the more hardheaded reader will forgive him soon enough. The discussion alternates between describing the deeply stressful task of absorbing poorly organized data and exploring solutions that require a bit of rethinking, but that reward such an investment with improved understanding and, maybe, a state change from information to wisdom. We could do worse--if we don't pay attention to Wurman and his colleagues, we almost certainly will. --Rob Lightner
From the Back Cover
A follow up to the first edition, Information Anxiety 2 teaches critical lessons for functioning in today's Information Age. In this new book, Wurman examines how the Internet, desktop computing, and advances in digital technology have not simply enhanced access to information, but in fact have changed the way we live and work. In examining the sources of information anxiety, Wurman takes an in-depth look at how technological advances can hinder understanding and influence how business is conducted.
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My guess is that this project was conceived as a quickie update to the original Information Anxiety to take advantage of Internet mania, and as such much of the work was delegated to others, but without sufficient review and editing. (There are too many editing mistakes to list here, but suffice it to say that probably few books have a misspelling in the Table Of Contents as this one does -- "Informatgion" instead of "Information".)
RSW tells us that it's important to always start off with what the question is. Problem is, he doesn't follow his own advice in that book. He careens uncontrollably from gushy predictions about the future, to cataclysmic warnings of information deluge, to superficial suggestions on software and web design, to facile pop management advice, The only thread connecting all these disjointed pieces is that he strictly limits himself to talking about how important something or other is, without ever giving specific advice about how to approach it.
I am personally interested in the field of localization and globalization. So naturally I was curious as to what insight RSW brought to this area. What I found was a single, lonely page on the topic, with a few lines of simplistic patter, and a strange, unexplained diagram of various fountain pens with country names associated with each.
I am also interested in the combination of text and graphics to present information and in fact bought this book thinking it might have some insights in that regards. So I was quite happy to see in the Table of Contents a section Design in the Digital Age, summarized as "In this Digital Age we need to focus on the connections among all design elements: medium, words, pictures, and sound." Alas, true to form, all the section in question does is repeat that we need to focus on this, with no clue as how we might actually do that, nor a single example in sight. To get an idea of the poor editing quality of this book, consider the following paragraph from this section:
"Where words meet pictures meet sound creates understanding. Are you a value-based organization? A service-based organization? A quality-based organization? Are you all three? We test communication by conveying a message and having the recipient understand it, be interested in it, and remember it. Any other measure is unimportant and invalid." Does anyone else wonder how the stuff about organizations fits in here? It's just random cut-and-paste content that accidentally found its way here, never to receive the benefit of the editor's pen. Signs of rampant cut-and-pasting abound throughout the book.
Although not really the fault of the author(s), the book is also seriously dated, having come out while there was still some degree of dot-com mania going on (although the peak was passed). So you can read this book on sort of an archaeological level, to recall all the bizarre things people were saying back in those heady days. Internet refrigerators, anyone?
I probably don't need to summarize; let me simply say you are best off spending your time and money on virtually any book on this topic besides this one.
Wurman offers nothing new either to expand upon or address his theories of Information Anxiety. Strangely, I have found this book to be all but unreadable except in very short bursts. The marginalia are rarely illuminating, occasionally thought-provoking, and frequently distracting. Even the book's size, weight, and the design of it's massive-flapped cover make it difficult to handle -- issues which one would think Wurman would have addressed.
This guy's past his prime.
Here is a consolidation of Wurman's key points in the first chapter: "We live in an age of alsos, adapting to alternatives. because we have greater access to information, many of us have become more involved in researching, and making our own decisions, rather than relying on experts. The opportunity is that there is so much information, the catastrophe is that 99% of it isn't meaningful or understandable. We need to rethink how we present information because the information appetites of people are much more refined. Success in our connected world requires that we isolate the specific information we need and get it to those we work with. If information is the product of the Digital Age, then the Internet is the transportation vehicle. That means more misinformation. The sheer volume of available information and the manner in which it is often delivered render much of it useless to us. The best teachers give us permission to get in touch with ourselves and become more of us. Everyone needs a personal measure to distinguish useful information from raw data. To entertain the radical idea that understanding might involve accepting chaos threatens the foundations of our existence." Wurman and his associates explore and develop other equally important ideas in each of the other 16 chapters. By indulging their interests throughout their own lives, "and perhaps because rather than despite many failures", they have been able to design their lives. They invite their reader to become engaged, not merely involved, in the same perilous but ultimately fulfilling process. Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Davenport and Beck's new book (identified earlier) as well as Borgmann's Holding On to Reality, Drexler's Engines of Invention, Hamel's Leading the Revolution, Locke et al's The Cluetrain Manifesto, and Nielsen's Designing Web Usability. From my perspective, the new century is rapidly becoming what could be characterized as a new "Renaissance" or (if you prefer) "Enlightenment" which these and other contemporary thinkers are now in the process of establishing.
Most recent customer reviews
I don't know any easier way of saying this but this book is horrible.Read more
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