Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified... by David Weinberger, 2002
hijjengiggle - The sound I make when someone gives me the "hi jack" joke. "Don't say that at an airport."
It's also a nonsense word that David Weinberger uses in a section of SPLJ in discussing how we translate from random squiggles on a page to letters to words.*
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I will recommend it to my friends who are interested in these things. The main reason I give it four of five cups is that the story isn't finished. David says as much as he wraps up the book. It takes a while for society to really see how new technologies, like the web, change how we see things. Does it really matter that children see the world as a giant book club, instead of a collection of countries with decided borders?
The tone David uses in this book is very conversational and comfortable. Having seen him speak a few times recently (Seabury and Digital Genres), and watched his promo video, I can essentially hear him discussing the points that are in his book. Many of the themes are familiar from those recent talks. He easily slides from a technical discussion of the web to the philosophical discussion of what the web means to us as a society and as individuals.
This book was written in the open, and several chapters are still available for free. He invited his friends and regular readers of the Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization (JoHO) to read and comment on drafts of the book, and the book was essentially available online in toto. (I got it from the library.) The chapters sometimes feel disjoint in their sections, and at other times flow smoothly across thoughts. Given David's speaking style, with great arcs of stories and ideas, I can see why putting these ideas into a linear book could become a challenge. He's done it pretty well.
I wonder how this book - or the ideas therein - would have been taken as the web was just coming into being? I wonder what people will think of the ideas in another ten years. David is telling us that this new way of being social - of being together without our bodies - is guaranteed to change how we perceive the world, even who we are. What an opportunity for social anthropoligists.
* Strangely, a friend of mine is writing a novel in which one of the characters has the strange characteristic of attaching color to individual letters as well as to words overall. I've only seen the first chapter, so I don't know what becomes of this.