Small Pieces Loosely Joined

Wow, even more true 10 years later:

What the Web has done to documents it is doing to just about every institution it touches. The Web isn’t primarily about replacing atoms with bits so that we can, for example, shop on line or make our supply chains more efficient. The Web isn’t even simply empowering groups, such as consumers, that have traditionally had the short end of the stick. Rather, the Web is changing our understanding of what puts things together in the first place. We live in a world that works well if the pieces are stable and have predictable effects on one another. We think of complex institutions and organizations as being like well-oiled machines that work reliably and almost serenely so long as their subordinate pieces perform their designated tasks. Then we go on the Web, and the pieces are so loosely joined that frequently the links don’t work; all too often we get the message (to put it palindromically) “404! Page gap! 404!” But, that’s ok because the Web gets its value not from the smoothness of its overall operation but from its abundance of small nuggets that point to more small nuggets. And, most important, the Web is binding not just pages but us human beings in new ways. We are the true “small pieces” of the Web, and we are loosely joining ourselves in ways that we’re still inventing.

From the Preface to Small Pieces Loosely Joined, David Weinberger, 2002.


  1. Posted November 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    You so poignantly put it, “nuggets”. I believe this has become true lately as more people get on board social media environments and personal websites (the term once used: “wired” is ubiquitous now), but one must also have the sense to know that on the other end of those nuggets lie flesh and blood, and I would muster the thought that if we were to plot online-IRL interaction over the past 17 years we will see a trend in the later end of the curve where people are more and more seeking people and their expertise through these connections.

  2. Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Would you say this is an affirmation of Om Malik’s “Alive Web” ( and where you will be focused helping entrepreneurs with your new fund?

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