Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become 1st Edition
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About the Author
Peter Morville is president of Semantic Studios, an information architecture, user experience, and findability consultancy. For over a decade, he has advised such clients as AT&T, IBM, Microsoft, Harvard Business School, Internet2, Procter & Gamble, Vanguard, and Yahoo. Peter is best known as a founding father of information architecture, having co-authored the field's best-selling book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Peter serves on the faculty at the University of Michigan's School of Information and on the advisory board of the Information Architecture Institute. He delivers keynotes and seminars at international events, and his work has been featured in major publications including Business Week, The Economist, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal. You can contact Peter Morville by email (email@example.com). You can also find him offline at 42.2 N 83.4 W or online at semanticstudios.com and findability.org.
- Item Weight : 14.1 ounces
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0596007652
- Product dimensions : 6 x 0.47 x 9 inches
- Publisher : O'Reilly Media; 1st edition (October 6, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #987,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This book went much deeper than I expected. As a disclaimer, I had many of my co-workers laugh when I told them the title of the book I was reading. However, I had a quick response as to what the book contained as the author quickly defines both ambient and findability. The author starts by giving background to how we come to find things. Not just as humans, he takes it to an even smaller scale discussing how ants find their way during their long journeys. Though this may seem odd, it helps to really put things into perspective. How DO we find things? Do we all find things the same way? In relation to the web - what words or phrases do we use to find things? Do we use broad terms or more specific (long tail) terms?
This book is very tough to review, as I felt it was packed with so much information. The only way for me to really elaborate would be to put it into context, and by that time you could have read the book. The information packed in this book has really opened me up to an array of new questions related to searching. Outside of the context of the web, how do people find things? Inside of the web, how do people find things? I constantly monitor our analytics at Barbour Publishing, Inc and watch how people find us, and where they go from there. Did they get the answer they were seeking? Was their search relevant? What terms did they use? What order were the terms? What punctuation is used? What did some of the other similar searches look like? What did their other searches look like? What did the spellings look like? So many aspects to look into - and then refine to make sure people can find the information they are seeking. Sometimes simple `like' queries aren't enough. Sometimes the index needs to be refined to incorporate stopwords, mis-spellings, aliases, and other pertinent information. Understanding the core principles, findings, and research will help you build a strong foundation and core.
I have found this to be extremely valuable and applicable to web development and answering the deeper questions. As stated earlier, this book is rather small in size but packs a big punch content wise. The author avoids `fluff' or trying to tell stories, and simply dives into the core (which is sometimes even scary) - which is often times backed by a significant amount of research and supplemental resources.
Though this book is not directly related to web development - the lessons learned here can be applied to that medium. If you are a web developer, SEO expert, or simply want to know how people find things (and their decision process) - then this a book for you.
The book is very well written, very easy to read, and follows a logical progression.
Has this happened yet? No, but with the advent of computers and other searching devices, we are getting closer to the "perfect" search. Another topic discussed in the book is information literacy. Simply put, this is the ability to locate information, evaluate what is found, and decide if it is usable. Is all information reliable? Definitely not. Is some of it worthwhile? Absolutely. The job of the information-literate user is to evaluate and decipher what is reliable and apply it to fit his or her needs.
The discussion continues with a description of new technologies which have emerged that can help searches. Trios, wearable computing, blackberries, and the internet all dot the information landscape, making searching much different than it was a decade or two ago. These technological advances have made it easier than ever to search for information. However, the problem still remains of knowing which parts of the information are useful and applying those parts appropriately.
I read this book as part of the course requirements for a Master's degree course I am enrolled in. I wasn't sure what to expect after seeing the book's cover. The monkey on the front really raised my level of curiosity. This book provides excellent tips and examples of how to correctly search for information. Admittedly, it took a while for the book to "get going", but I did learn a great deal from it. I highly recommend this book to information seekers. It will definitely help the user who is searching for information.
However, like most techincal publishing houses, O'Reilly does not have enough editors fluent in enough technical areas of expertise to impose order on its authors. The result is that they produce excellent texts for those already familiar with the subject, and dreadful experiences for those hoping for something other than a "Dummies" book.
"Ambient Findability" is no different. The subject is broad, the concepts are deep, and the order is completely lacking. O'Reilly seemed to have exercised no editorial restraint in the publishing of this book - it is andectoal, rambling and repetitive in parts, and generally jumps around (much like the subject of the book), without any common touch points.
The main point of the book is that information is grouped in structured and not so structured ways on the web, and being able to "find" information is predicated on how it is percieved by other parts of the web. This already is a vast ocean of space to cover. 180 pages with a lot of graphics is bound to be light, but add on rambling discourse, and you can only swallow 20-30 pages at a time, before bed.
I really believe the author is a great mind on this subject. He could do much better w/ a well disciplined editor.
Top reviews from other countries
In particular I did not like some of his examples. When someone cites Richard Dawkins as a leading researcher in biology I start to get concerned. Dawkins is a world class science writer and has done a great service to science popularisation but he is not renowned as a biological researcher. This highlights the problem of information - when we have too much we cannot make informed statements as the information drowns them out! We think that popular authors are leading experts and so quantity drowns out quality. His reliance on the network ideas of Barabasi has also not stood the test of time as subsequent results have shown that model to be overly simplistic and I will not comment about his finding an alternative therapy on the internet for back pain.
So while I agree there is great opportunity, and that we need to develop much more in evidence based policy and in using information more successfully for decision making it is very easy to be drawn in by the wrong expert view (as easily as the wrong folksonomy), and "truth" is very hard to find - but maybe it is always relative.
While not especially technical, this book does provide a strong starting point for the topic of information architecture, with particular regards to the relationship between different types of data. The content has been well researched, and the ample references and links can be regarded as a jumping-off point for delving into this broad topic in more detail.
Personally, I found it worthwhile spending time going with the author through various topics and reasoning, thinking about how these may be applied to my own projects, or perspective. Having said that, I already have a significant background in the topic, as such some of the book's perceived shortcomings may have been solely based on the fact that it is aimed at a different audience than myself.
I recommend this book for any web developer/designer's bookshelf, as I believe more "designers" and "programmers" should start considering themselves "interface developers", and therefore should have an appreciation for how their work will interact with their software user's lives.
One expectation I had of the book, considering it is from O'Reilly, was that it would have concrete development examples, which this book does not. It is more of a general discussion of the topic of information architecture, wayfinding and interaction.
If you have an interest in how the human species will use and co-create the new, emergent technologies such as Web 2.0, ubiquitous computing (ubicomp), or even Gibson's Cyberspace, then read this book. It will make you think.