Reading Response to: “The Work of Knowledge”


“Discussing differences while standing on a shared ground, we work towards understanding.” Philosophers are lonely thinkers.  Through conversations things that we know are not “interesting to talk about.” In a conversation our thoughts are released less edited, versus the philosopher’s paper that is well thought through. “Paper drives thought into our head” while “web releases thoughts before they are complete, so we can work on them together.”  It is understood that we are not going to stay in a single, unified, “true, inescapable, and final knowledge of all that is.”  What powerful words. Realistic and true to the nature of the miscellaneous universe.

Miscellaneous universe is interesting and non-unitary.  The mess of the conversation is believed to create shared knowledge.  In comparison to Howard Dean’s campaign, it is the “letting go” that developed a sense of shared knowledge and trust by the voters, that is why it went as far as it did, but, David says, Dean lost because of the policy, organizational and personal reasons.


“Genius is topical.”  If a person is a genius in one thing, it does not mean she is going to be such in others.  We would question one person if she or he claims to be an expert on a field that has a sea of books, yet the field of inquiry that is too narrow is not going to be and accredited field of study.

Books, too, are valued accordingly to their content.  But books are limited to the physical properties.  Britannica, famous for its editorial content “picks its topics carefully” as it “must save room for it whatever else goes” (p 206), but the online encyclopedia Wikipedia does not have that problem.

However, the two works have very different structures.  One is a top-heavy one to many approach (Britannica), whereas the other is many to many, its knowledge becomes great when many people combine their knowing on the subject.  Social knowledge.

One of the physical disadvantages of print, is its limit in space, so, the topic can not go on forever.  Wikipedia does not have that problem, the links that sow the topics together introduce endless sprawl of information and contribute to miscellaneous.  Britannica maybe well edited and each topic show the genius of its author, the longer it is, Wikipedia contributes to the passion and interest of individuals when it gets longer.  As topics “bust out of their bindings” throughout the text in Wikipedia, Britannica provides us with reference to the articles at the end of its article, an afterthought.

In the miscellaneous order, the topics are anything anyone may have interest in.  Anything can be blogged, created, or posted in Wikipedia and immediately the text “miscellanizes” itself with links leading away from the topic.  This sparks an interest and makes it a fun site contributing to the further search for knowledge and understanding.


Knowledge is not simple in the “miscellanized world.”  As the book shows knowledge in politics, marketing and science is forced to be simplified.  Politicians make speeches, introduce problems and provide possible solutions for us.  Marketers provide us simple slogans for the products, scientists explain to us simple formulas applied to the universe.  But the minute it hits the internet, every idea is dissected, discussed, digested, and complexified.


Facts – that about which we no longer argue – compared to nails, they hold our understanding together and in order.  The knowledge is becoming a commodity  – some good for which there is a demand.  Google and Wikipedia commoditizes the knowledge, and the internet makes it available at one click of a button.  Commoditization of knowledge “frees us to understand.”  We understand something when we see how pieces are put together.  David says: “Understanding is metaknowledge.”


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