Here’s part of my answer (with a few typos fixed):
- Taxonomies, nomenclatures, classification. Having common ways to refer to things is really helpful. We can make up for them to at least some degree by cross-walking and mapping. It’s always going to be messy. The rise of unique IDs and namespaces is helping a great deal.
- Filters. We used to not worry about filters because all we could get was the filtered product. Now we have to worry about them all the time. But we also now filter forward rather than filter out: When the site TheBrowser.com puts together a front page with 10 items on it from around the Web, all the other items that didn’t make it onto the front page are still fully available; TheBrowser.com has merely shortened the number of clicks it takes to get to its ten.
- Consensus. We used to think that we “all” agreed on some things. We had authorities we “all” trusted. Now we have communities of belief. Links and conversation can help us get past the fragmentation that makes us stupid, but not past all fragmentation.
But we should keep in mind that we’ve lost these old formations to a large degree because they don’t scale, and because they presented themselves to us under false pretenses: they were never as baked into the world as they seemed.
It’s our knowledge now.