Miscellaneous Book Review

Well, this is a review of David Weinberger’s presentation. Tamara and I went to David Weinberger’s talk this week presenting his new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, which was released Tuesday. It’s been getting some great reviews, from Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing and by Ethan Zuckermann at the book’s Amazon page, where it’s already ranked #79!

David’s presentation is a must-see: if it comes to your town, make sure you catch it, he’s refined it since his presentation at the Library of Congress. Like the book, it’s a tour de force. His slides make all the difference. He really oughtta post a video of this, because it helped me understand what most of you got right away but had not been obvious to me:

Tagging is a social grace, incumbent on each of us.

Tagging is the Triumph of the Commons.

I’ve never been a tagger because I didn’t quite see the point. But David’s talk was inspiring. His message is like, “When you see something, say something!” Actually, it’s more like, when you see anything, say something. When you’re wandering the world of of ideas and impression and you stumble across a metaphor, throw it in the right metaphor bucket.

I’m lazy, and I treat my sloth as a reasonable option. It’s not.

Not tagging a relevancy is a little like being a litterbug. I go (slightly) out of my way to pick up a piece of trash and throw it in the designated receptacle of our collective sensibilities, because I have a visceral sense of the consequences of not doing so. Likewise, it’s irresponsible to not add my Aha! moments to our collective receptacle of understanding and metaphor.

To be fair, tagging a candy wrapper as trash is a binary event, while tagging my or another’s writing requires higher-order decisions. A candy wrapper on the sidewalk is categorically wrong, so it’s an easy choice to nab it, knowing a trash container is always a few steps away. In fact, the ubiquitous trashcan is a grace of 21st Century urban design (UI). Its proximity is a support for one’s choice to be part of the solution. I remember a time before ubiquitous trash containers, because hardly anyone littered, so there was a built-in bias against solving someone else’s oversight. One was simply repelled rather than useful.

After his talk, Tamara and David and I had an enjoyable Indian vegetarian dinner at one of the many Indian restaurants on Lexington Avenue north of Gramercy Park. Shortly after Joi Ito’s Eat To Live Diet conversion, Tamara and I jumped on that bandwagon. We’re not as strict as Joi, but reasonably so. I’m down 20 pounds and 3 inches at the waist, and I love how Tamara looks. So it was fun to do veggies with David, because the last time we sat together at a restaurant, it was a Brasilian steakhouse in Cambridge. I was wolfing down dead cow parts while David was stalking the virtual pampas for sprouts and condiments.

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