2 Responses to Everything is Miscellaneous

  1. @katygo Thank you for sharing! I’m adding this to my To-Read list. I’m a cataloger by day and also avid seeker of information all day every day.

    What you discuss regarding traditional standards being fragile and biased is the truth. “Fragile in that they often do not account for changes or additions to knowledge and biased in that the architect of any given system controls what information is prioritized or ignored.” My coworker has a little ribbon on her wall that says “Cataloging is NOT a neutral act.” While I think it’s meant to convey the sentiment that catalogers have the power and responsibility to provide people with important information, it also is a reminder that our records were put forward and reviewed by a single person. If the cataloger is truly engaged in what they’re doing, they are actively editing or creating records with content THEY feel is appropriate for their users (within local rules, cataloging rules, and with what Library of Congress dictates)…but this means that a record from my library could look totally different at another institution. And that we have to generalize what we think is best for our communities. It’s not ideal. We have some features like user-tags and ratings/reviews, but they’re underused and sad.

    What I -really- enjoy is the sort of community engagement that sites like GoodReads offers. Yes, there’s information about the book’s content, a summary, page numbers, all the “standard” stuff. But users add in reviews, ask questions, and even help cast a vote for what genre they’d place a book in depending on where they may have it “shelved” in their virtual collection. Contests, message boards, giveaways, the site is full of fun stuff. Suddenly this book’s “catalog” record on GoodReads is much more user-friendly and approachable, because users have more control. The power of the participatory!

    • @eglybrand I’m so glad you brought up GoodReads. There’s a section in Everything is Miscellaneous devoted to the participatory nature of Wikipedia. Two very different beasts, I know, but Weinberger focuses on the intense back and forth between contributors and how it seems like nothing could ever be accomplished given the contentious nature of certain topics and the diversity of input but in reality, this structure is amazing because it brings such a variety of views into the development of an article and is more or less self-policing with the various contributors working toward a mutually agreeable “neutral point of view.” This involves extreme give and take of course, but that is why Wikipedia, GoodReads, and other similar platforms are successful because they harness the power of the user and in some cases, capitalize on discourse resulting in solutions that are acceptable to a great many rather than a select few.

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