Friday, 21 November 2008


As promised the subject today is fragmented. Fragment, what a word. In the physical world it simply means a piece / a part, often of something that was bigger before. Drop a vase and most of the time you are suddenly the owner of a whole lot of fragments.

In the real world fragments are everywhere. News clips, movies-leaders, rumours, hyperlinks, stories are all examples of non-physical stuff that can be called a fragment, a piece of reality so to say.

In the digital world interesting things are happening around fragmentism too. Picking up on the title Everything is Miscellaneous of David Weinbergers book , Dave Snowden pointed at the shift from hierarchical taxonomies to the free form tagging of social computing and concluded that Everyting is Fragmented. He wrote on KM world:

I wanted to build on that by pointing to the shift during the life span of knowledge management from the "chunked" material of case studies and best-practice documents to the unstructured, fragmented and finely granular material that pervades the blogosphere.

To me one of the most interesting aspects of living is the aspect of perspective. Every human being (or even animal) you meet has its own perspective on reality. Where one sees danger, others see the next thrill. And everyone who has even been part of "a project" know there are at least the number of project plans than project members, often there are more ....

That is for me where the resemblance between the physical and the information world ends. In the physical world the vase falls into fragments, loosing the vase in the process of breaking. In the information world one person tells a story to a group of 10 and suddenly one has 11 stories, the original and 10 new ones, all coloured with the perspective of the observer. The same happes to written material. One example:

There is this story about a famous Dutch writer who was talking one evening to an audience in a library about his latest book. After telling for an hour, the audience was granted the opportunity to ask questions. A woman raised her hand and said ... Sir, on page 72, can you explain why the main character thinks she will die? The writer said to her ... Madam, that is in the book you read, not in the book that I wrote.

For me, that is the basic mechanism that increases the fragmentedness of the infospace. So the real question is .... what have you read? A fragment, my fragment, has now become yours and changed probably in the process. Is that a viable way of living, does it create new value? I don't know, but I'll explore further next time. Maybe the title should be viable fragments. Not sure yet!

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