Liveblogging – David Weinberger – Metadata is what you know, data is what you are looking for

(David Weinberger is the keynote this morning at Enterprise 2.0 – what follows are my raw notes from his talk.)

We may feel like we are in change overload – everything has been changing for the last decade – we’re tired of it all changing.

Next up for change: Authority, Trust, boundaries. There’s nothing more fundamental to what business is than where the enterprise starts and where it ends.

Information overload hasn’t really occured – we generate even more than we expected, but what has helped us is more data – metadata.

Metadata is what helps us deal with information overload

First order things -books, photos – go into one place and one only.

Second order – separate metadata – library catalog example. (The person in control of the sort order is empowered – only one way of organizing things)

Limitation of the physical – you can’t have two things in one place at the same time, no matter how hard you try.

Trees – get mistaken for a natural approach (binary sort) but they aren’t natural at all.

Third order – everything is digital – everything can exist in many places at the same time.

What does this change? Everything.

1st principle that changes – things can be in many places and can have many sort orders at once

2nd principle – forget neat, messy is good
Customer example – even if you are able to track well the customer’s experience on your site, that is only a fraction of the cutsomer – whose experience does not resolve around you.

If all you know about your customer is what is neat and clean, then you don’t know much about your customer – messy is good, because it is rich.

3rd principle – there is no difference between metadata and data
We’ve assumed a difference between data and metadata – perhaps there is no difference anymore. Looking for a book by author to find the title- but these days you will often find the entire book.

The only difference now is that metadata is the stuff you know, and data is what you are looking for.

If your business internally and externally is not taking advantage of this you’ve got a nice 50 pt IQ boost coming.

4th principle – unknown order is the norm – don’t assume there is value in the default order. (clothes store example – why not everything sorted by size).

The value of the messy pile enriched by metadata.

Real Estate example – democrats and replican concentrations, flight paths – the point is you can’t tell what people are going to want to sort by – let the users do so.

What this all adds up to is the miscellenization of everything.

Wikipedia’s caution banners – this article appears to contradict itself, contains “weasel words”, reads like a sermon, reads like an advertisement.

Wikipedia becomes more credible because it wears its potential fallibility on its sleeve.

We all know every data source can be fallible – but you won’t see these caution banners on the NY Times front page.

Businesses too often have adopted the pose of the infallible authorities – and it is wearing thin in the web 2.0 world.

Example – mailing list – the list itself is smarter than any of the individual subscribers. It’s always been this way, of course, but it is more evident than ever before.

It is not even close to being enough already. These are revolutions – it is not hype. These are changes at the very heart of knowledge, power, and business. We are reshaping businesses (it is being done to us whether we want to or not). We are so at the beginning of this.

The biggest change is from a business which is (from a consumer viewpoint) theirs to a business which is ours.