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Small Pieces Loosely Joined

3.9 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1903985366
ISBN-10: 1903985366
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Provocative and disturbing...compelling and cogent...An important book."

About the Author

David Weinberger is the publisher of JOHO (Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization). Co-author of the best-selling The Cluetrain Manifesto, he is a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and has written for a wide variety of publications, including Wired, the New York Times, and Smithsonian.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903985366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903985366
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,756,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Pomeroy on August 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
In reading David Weinberger's "Small Pieces Loosely Joined", his thesis of how the Web works and impacts our lives, I couldn't help but recall Louis Armstrong's legendary response to the question "What is jazz". "Man, if ya gotta ask," he supposedly replied, "you'll never know."
"Small Pieces" tries to ask just that question: What is the Web? Not to say that Weinberger doesn't know (he does), but in trying to formulate an answer with "Small Pieces", he offers few new insights. There's nothing in this book that will hit the reader like a ton of bricks, especially if he or she has any degree of Web experience.
Indeed, while well-written and informative, the bulk of the content is a rehash of earlier Internet thinkers like Clifford Stoll, Nicholas Negroponte, Eric Raymond, Howard Rhiengold and even Jeremy Rifkin. Old-school netizens will be particularly disappointed, especially since the tone of the book comes disturbingly close to the technlogy-will-change-everything breathelessness of the dotcom days.
"Small Pieces", however, has its merits -- particularly in Weinberger's writing style. In that vein, "Small Pieces" makes a good beach book... and it's also good for those new to the Web (or at least those who are critically thinking about it for the first time). But if you really want to learn what the Web's all about, get surfing and build your own website. Like learning how to ride a bike, the only way to learn the Web is by hopping on the seat and risking a few skinned knees.
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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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Format: Paperback
I read this book a decade after it was published and was impressed to find it relevant and interesting. The book was recommended by a friend, but I was apprehensive about how dated it might be after so much internet time had passed. Not to worry. Weinberger sorts many impacts and influences the web has had into a sort of taxonomy of a few fundamental categories such as time, space, knowledge and hope. This useful perspective has lasting value.

I've been watching the web since its inception, so many of Weinberg's concepts and connections were familiar. The ideas made me think of Kevin Kelly's "Out of Control", which was a 1994 exploration of decentralized systems. Kelly looked at mathematics, biology, hardware and software, but was too early to consider the powerful influence the web would have. Weinberger brings similar thinking to the web.
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Format: Paperback
This book was published in 2002 (the year I started working for Microsoft). Now, 14 years later, it's certainly not as relevant a book as it was in 2002. And that's the main reason not to buy this book: it's out of date. But how relevant a book was it even in 2002? Not very.

The author describes media coverage of the Web in 1995 as being "at its most hysterical". Seven years later, the author's own writing comes across as way too over-excited about something that's just not that exciting nor significant. That said, I still cringe today whenever someone says or writes "that's what the Internet is like" (or something similar) as if "the Internet" is a meaningful construct apart from the world. It isn't. It's no more apart from the world as the "Spanish-speaking" or "telephone-using" or "car-driving" or "left-handed" aspects of the world are. Usually the reason "the Internet" is singled out as if it's a different planet is because of behavior. People sometimes behave differently when interacting via digital media than they do when they're standing in front of you. But that's also true of people using telephones, or cars, or shouting at you through a locked door. These slight modifications of behavior as a function of circumstance and medium is not unique to the Web, and it's uninteresting and incidental.

This author seems pretty smart. With a bit of training I think he'd make a good writer. I would encourage him to find out what the words "antisocial" and "unsociable" mean so that he can comment about the New York Times' abuse of them instead of just aping that abuse.
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