Again, let me start off by saying that Everything is Miscellaneous is a really great book, particularly for an old librarian/IA type like me. Fascinating stuff.
But Weinberger’s comparisons and criticisms of the card catalog in libraries seem odd. There’s hardly a library in the US that still uses them. Even the smallest public libraries have probably converted to an OPAC years ago–many in the mid 80s. Why even bring them up?
Even if you want to keep the argument in the offline world of libraries, Weinberger still makes it seem like the card catalog is the only access point to books. It’s not. There are many many bibliographies and reference resources that slice and split works by any number of facets. There are also many different indexes to articles with many many access points. Heck, you can even see who else has cited that important scientific article you found with the Science Citation Index. Weinberger over-simplifies a very complex system of citations and linking of resources that exist in physical libraries.
I agree with Weinberger that the third order of organization the web affords is different, but not because other means of accessing books (just to stick with that example) don’t exist. That vision was already there in the paper world.
There are indexes that provide access to Bach cantatas by the first line of text, for instance. Same for poetry. And then there are the countless literature guides in just about any discipline and sub-discipline.
So what the web really changes is:
a.) Who is doing the organizing. Now it’s everyone instead of information professionals
b.) The time it takes to create new lists of access points to books, to then find those list, and to use them effectively.
The Time of Information in the third order, then, is the real thing to focus on. It’s not about more information or more ways to organize information or even more people doing the organizing. The information experience people have in the third order world of the web is one that changes the relationship and proportions of time in information seeking, organizing, and use.