May 21, 2002

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Small Pieces Loosely Joined

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 9:19 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web by David Weinberger, Perseus Publishing, 200 Pages, $25.00 Hardcover, April 2002, ISBN 0738205435
One of the early landmark books about the Internet was The Cluetrain Manifesto, co-authored by David Weinberger. The book was notorious for talking big, even called pretentious, strident, and absolutely brilliant by the reviewer at The Wall Street Journal. How about this sub-title for over-promising? One can only hope this book is as successful at living up to its promise as The Cluetrain Manifesto was. While Im not sure it is quite the book Cluetrain was, it certainly offers a perspective of the web that is overarching and singular. If you yearn to understand the web, not from a user stand-point (what is a URL?), but wish to better grasp how the web has changed society (does the web simply encourage the loner in all of us?), then this is certainly a worthwhile and dynamic read.
The author has divided the book into eight chapters, starting with an overview and then mapping out Space, Time, Perfection, Togetherness, Knowledge, Matter and Hope. Yes, he does tackle these subjects, and it is indeed this vastness of subject that intrigues the author. Yes, sometimes it seems like a stretch, but Ive got to tell you that this guy can write - very well and very convincingly. For example, talking about space and the Web:
Unlike the real world, there is no expense of empty space that gets diminished every time someone stakes a new house. Web space is infinite (me: I love to think about this idea) in that it cant be used up, but its not infinitely big. Its not a container waiting to be filled; it is more like a book thats being written.
I received the galley, the pre-release copy, over six months ago and have been picking the book up and digesting every since. The author has a great sense of humor: for example, he talks about a site called, writing: the site contains an idiosyncratic collection of essays by a writer with too much personality for his own good. That writer is the co-author of the aforementioned Cluetrain Manifesto.
Why read this book? What does this book offer as takeaways? This is a book that will give you new and potentially better way of looking at something (the Web) that didnt exist for most of us six or seven years ago and now has become a force we cant ignore. For me, this book gave me constant insights into the phenomenon that the web has become.