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Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory Of The Web [Hardcover]

David Weinberger
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 26, 2002 0738205435 978-0738205434 1st
The Web has not been hyped enough. That's the startling thesis of this one-of-a-kind book that's sure to become a classic work of social commentary. Just as Marshall McLuhan forever altered our view of broadcast media, Weinberger shows that the new medium of the Web is not only altering social institutions such as business and government but, more important, is transforming bedrock concepts of our culture such as space, time, the public, and even reality itself.Weinberger introduces us to denizens of this new world, among them Zannah, whose online diary turns self-revelation into play; Tim Bray, whose map of the Web reveals what's at the heart of the new Web space; and Danny Yee and Claudiu Popa, part of the new breed of Web experts we trust despite their lack of qualifications. Through stories of life on the Web, an insightful take on some familiar (and some unfamiliar) Web sites, and a wicked sense of humor, Weinberger puts the Web into the social and intellectual context we need to begin assessing its true impact on our lives. The irony, according to Weinberger, is that this new technology is more in tune with our authentic selves than is the modern world. Funny, provocative, and ultimately hopeful, Small Pieces Loosely Joined makes us look at the Web--and at life--in a new light.From Small Pieces Loosely Joined:The Web has sent a jolt through our culture, zapping our economy, our ideas about the sharing of creative works, and possibly even institutions such as religion and government. Why? How do we explain the lightning charge of the Web? If it has fallen short of our initial hopes and fears about its transformational powers, why did it excite those hopes and fears in the first place? Why did this technology hit our culture like a bolt from Zeus?Suppose--just suppose--that the Web is a new world we're just beginning to inhabit...If the Web is changing bedrock concepts such as space, matter, time, perfection, public, knowledge, and morality--each a chapter of this book--no wonder we're so damn confused. That's as it should be. The Web is enabling us to rediscover what we've always known about being human: we are connected creatures in a connected world about which we care passionately...If this is true, then for all of the over-heated, exaggerated, manic-depressive coverage of the Web, we'd have to conclude that the Web in fact has not been hyped enough.

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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.

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