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Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
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Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,053 ratings  ·  160 reviews
We used to know how to know. We got our answers from books or experts. We'd nail down the facts and move on. But in the Internet age, knowledge has moved onto networks. There's more knowledge than ever, of course, but it's different. Topics have no boundaries, and nobody agrees on anything.

Yet this is the greatest time in history to be a knowledge seeker ... if you know ho
Hardcover, 231 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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 ·  2,053 ratings  ·  160 reviews

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Start your review of Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Machine-Made Blindness

This is a rambling, discursive, facile presentatiοn. But what is it really meant to be? A meditation? A sales document? A popularised academic dissertation? It has lots of jargon like ‘long-form thinking’, and ‘book-shaped knowledge’ that suggest it is meant to be hip, the latest thing (in 2010) in intellectual cool. But its contribution to what it claims as its territory - epistemology - is difficult to detect.

The book starts by quoting the former business guru, Russell Ac
Clumsy Storyteller
Nov 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
“The Internet’s abundant capacity has removed the old artificial constraints on publishing including getting our content checked and verified. The new strategy of publishing everything we find out thus results in an immense cloud of data, free of theory, published before verified, and available to anyone with an Internet connection. And this is changing the role that facts have played as the foundation of knowledge.” i strongly agree, I wish the Internet had more educational and cultural filters ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: popcomp
I was 18% of the way through this book before I realized it was a book about philosophy. Well, perhaps it isn't, perhaps it's filed under popular computing or whatever the "books that tell you how everything is different with the Internet" section is called these days. But what I took from this book was the philosophy.

Now I've read a little of philosophy: I can recognize a bunch of the Greeks and maybe make a lame ham-fisted explanation of one or two, but the real thing I learned from my reading
This is a decent surface-skim of the way the Internet is redefining how we think and what knowledge even means. Things aren't discussed in much depth, but topics in this area are introduced enough that you can start to think about them for yourself. I enjoyed setting the book aside to think deeper about some of what it talked about, and while I often disagreed with the author, he later reveals he disagrees with a lot of what has already been said doom-and-gloom-wise about the Internet. He just d ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book is that somehow networked organizations and networked thinking will lead to better, smarter decisions. As long as we include a sufficient diversity of opinions and experience in the networks helping us make our decisions we will arrive at better, more informed answers. In fact, as the amount of information explodes, these networks will be the only way to manage all the information we are creating.

Here's the problem. I don't think anyone will dispute that reaching out the
Daniel M.
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If the number of underlines in a book is any measure of quality (or at least interest), this is possibly the wisest book I’ve read on the changes in how we think about knowledge. Every chapter has at least 10 underlined passages. Weinberger gets a lot of it right: the changes in our expectations about what constitutes validity; how internetworking at the speed and scale we have now radically changes the WAYS we think; and the ways in which large amounts of networked knowledge allows us to think ...more
Armanda Moncton
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a good book, yet I found it very hard to persist to the end. Perhaps for someone who is deeply knowledgeable about the evolution of networks, and who swims effortlessly in the hyperlinked knowledge environment of blogs and tweets, this work of philosophy will deepen their understanding of powerful changes that come with a paradigm shift. For myself, I am desperately trying to flit from one observation post to another as I borrow the perspective of those who are knowledgeable about what t ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though there really is "too much" to even discuss (much less know!) regarding new media's effect on how we establish, glean, and use knowledge, Weinberger does a fantastic job in exploring many of these issues. Better yet, he does so in an engaging manner, presenting plenty of historical and modern-day examples in a sophisticated, yet easy-to-read narrative voice.

What most impresses me about Weinberger's approach is his clear confidence in the importance of these issues coupled with a conscious
Rob Kitchin
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
In Too Big to Know, David Weinberger (2011) develops a materialist argument with regards to the relationship between the medium and nature of communication, arguing: ‘[t]ransform the medium by which we develop, preserve, and communicate knowledge, and we transform knowledge.’ Such arguments have been made by others, such as Kittler in his book Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, where he sets out how each of these technologies transformed knowledge production and changed how people relate to and inter ...more
Neil R. Coulter
Oct 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction

In Too Big to Know, David Weinberger is essentially saying, "Listen, folks, I've read a few articles, and boy do you need to hear what I've learned!" I kept waiting for something from Weinberger's own experience or expertise to rise up and take its place in the book, but it never seemed to. Rather, he relies on other books on similar topics, and on information he found online. He did a few interviews, but they add little to his argument.

His argument is that the very idea of knowledge is changing

A Mig
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-tech
A collection of interesting tidbits but otherwise too shallow to my taste.
Karel Baloun
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From Harvard’s Center for Internet & Society, these 200 pages punch far above their weight! Supremely well organized, with memorable, witty anecdotes throughout. Knowledge is no longer anything like it has ever been. “ The world is far, far too big to know.” pXIV

Yes, having all knowledge available in our pockets changes everything, changes what knowing means and whether it matters. This 2011 book feels rather timeless, and also most timely. Notes that Carl Sunstein in 2001 predicts echo chambers
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Weinberger’s book tells us an obvious truth: there is so much information on the Internet. Maybe too much. How do we turn all of that data into knowledge? How do we keep ourselves from spiraling into heaps of information that isn’t true? Most of us know that the Internet is full of information; what we don’t know is how much of it can be backed up by facts, though it’s easier than ever to link to data. As we’ve seen, anyone can put up any information—whether true or not—to lead their readers to ...more
Ken McDouall
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Weinberger dazzles us with examples of how the structure of knowledge and means of knowing are changing with the rapid growth of digital networks in all our institutions. He details how tools such as crowdsourcing, open access repositories, and aggregators are exponentially increasing the amount of information we have access to. There has always been an abundance of information, but our traditional paper-based system of disseminating it has put time-tested filters in place. Weinberger describes ...more
Mike Nyerges
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Librarians and archivists
Shelves: recently-read
In Too Big to Know, David Weinberger examines how the unprecedented growth of information on the Internet has challenged how we determine fact and share our understanding of the world, and he suggests possible strategies in coping with this growth. Weinberger reviews how the Internet has facilitated a dynamic exchange of ideas that was once the province of established institutions and professions. What were once closed networks are now more open, visible and public. Studies and investigations ar ...more
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was less a new book and more a book-length response to Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?", and, as with New and Quiet, this book could easily have been half the length. The author talks at length about how research used to be done, how research used to be reported, how newspapers used to be the "record", etc. and how now, in the Internet age, thanks to the ease of crowdsourcing and self-publishing, those traditional "experts with official imprimatur" are now losing ground to the ...more
Roy Kenagy
Dec 03, 2011 marked it as to-read
Evgeny Morozov eviscerates Weinberger, Too Big to Know ~I guess I need to read it anyway...

Report on "Too Big to Know" lecture by Weinberger at UC Berkeley School of Information:

“Newspapers, encyclopedias, they are just gone, at the touch of a hyperlink,” Mr. Weinberger said. The institutions of “education and politics – they’ll just shatter. How did they get to be so fragile?” With the pained glee of a scientist discovering very bad news, he added,
Harry Fulgencio
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it
If you have read something about Big Data then some of the examples here would be familiar (vice versa). This book offers a glimpse and interpretations of previous,mostly successful, instances of highly networked knowledge e.g. Patientslikeme, foldit, open government in US, open data initiatives, innocentive, more can be read in the chapter 4 "The expertise of clouds".

"Life is local. Without the local, we would have no standpoint by which to make sense of the world near us or the world within wh
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A study of knowledge in a networked world: Weinberger looks at how paper and digital technologies shape what we know and how we know it. A more cohesively written volume than his Everyting is Miscellaneous, Too big to Know proposes that knowledge now belongs to the network and the Internet is not making us stupid, it is merely making us structure knowledge in different ways.

Emma Sea
Jan 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Not sure if full of filler, or if I just didn't need to be persuaded to Weinberger's way of thinking. Link to show your evidence/reasoning, teach people how to tell complete bullshit apart from rhetoric, don't abandon traditional knowledge/institutions when it/they can still offers us stuff, label stuff well, open access to knowledge. Sounds fine to me. ...more
Eric Abell
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Eric by: Gary Thompson
This book has given me a great deal to think about. I'm honestly not sure what to think about what it means to "know" something. I have a system of studying that I have developed over the last 15 years of my life, and after reading this book it's difficult for me to have trust in that system.

I'm immediately starting the second read of this book while I try to assemble the ideas in my head.
Mariah Bennett-Gillard
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
He makes some great points. I found this to be overly cited and fairly repetitive, which was distracting. For nonfiction books, I prefer concise writing, so this was a little arduous for me. Overall, it is quite informative. I got a lot out of it.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #159 on April 8, 2012, during an interview with authorDavid Weinberger. ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: october-2015
Finally finished! Interesting thoughts on knowledge in the digital age.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Too Big to Know: Overusing the term Knowledge now that online comments are Facts, Quotations are everywhere, and the smartest thing in the Book is the Title.

Greg Linster
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
How do you know what you think you know? What counts as knowledge and what doesn’t?  These questions speak to a great semantics-based problem, i.e., trying to define what ‘knowledge’ is. Studying the nature of knowledge falls within the domain of a branch of philosophy called epistemology, which happens largely to be the subject matter of David Weinberger’s book  Too Big Too Know .

According to Weinberger, most of us tend to think that there are certain individuals — called experts — who are kn
Alex Johnson
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
The biggest thing I got out of this book is that our definition of what is knowledge is changing and that we need to teach people to use the internet well. Weinberger frustrated me at times because it felt like he was talking around a subject rather than explaining it; hence I'm still not sure what the heck "networked knowledge" means and how the network is smarter than everything else. This book is not super accessible to an outsider. I'm starting to realize that all technology books are think- ...more
Martha Decker
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is interesting, and it makes many valid points. There are a few things that I don’t totally agree with Weinberger about, but overall, his points are valid and well stated and his work is thoroughly sourced. His points definitely have credibility, as he has vast experience in all that is "internet."

David Weinberger is a writer, philosopher, marketing consultant, professional speaker and teacher with a Ph.D from the University of Toronto. He taught college for several years in the 1980s.
Apr 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
David Weinberger was a keynote speaker at a conference I attended last year. I had picked up this book beforehand, as a way of being uber-prepared for this last-minute-approved professional development opportunity. In Too Big to Know, Weinberger briefly examines how technology is shaping the way we create knowledge.

Some years ago, I read Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch, though I think he is better known for his book The Shallows. Weinberger’s book is in the same topical vicinity as those, but Wei
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“The smartest person in the room is not the person standing at the front lecturing us, and it is not the collective wisdom of those in the room. The smartest person in the room is the room itself: the network that joins people and ideas in the room, and connects to those outside of it.”

In his book “Too Big To Know” Weinberger describes how the internet changed the way we create, share, receive, manage and store knowledge in the 21st century. The above quote supports his main thought that the tra
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“The Internet’s abundant capacity has removed the old artificial constraints on publishing—including getting our content checked and verified. The new strategy of publishing everything we find out thus results in an immense cloud of data, free of theory, published before verified, and available to anyone with an Internet connection. And this is changing the role that facts have played as the foundation of knowledge.” 2 likes
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