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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.
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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.
This may be the only O'Reilly book I have ever read that changed some of my basic notions about things I thought I understood, not at a "how to code this or that" level but at a "how the world works" level.
The book presents itself as a thoughtful ramble through some issues around finding and retrieving content that a person might wish to have. And it does a very good job of laying out the landscape, identifying pitfalls, and pointing out unpredictable successes (and failures).
But the real beauty of this book is its own internal organization. The author starts with tangible physical location and navigation, and then moves onto to fluently-written descriptions of virtual location and navigation. The book is thought-provoking and fairly balanced in presenting the perspectives of people who feel strongly about these issues while disagreeing vehemently with one another.
This volume offers no easy solutions, but it illuminates a landscape that needs desperately to be better understood by more people, and it does so in a readable, accessible way. I learned some things, I unlearned some things, and I had a heck of a good time doing so. Will it make me a better information architect? I hope so, but it certainly made me a more thoughtful one.
The title, "Ambient Findability," is somewhat misleading. The book is a lot like listening to a thought leader (which Morville is) holding court on a variety of topics tangentially related to findability. You get a broad-ranging set of Morville's musings, many of them interesting, that fall all over the map. I would have appreciated knowing that before I bought the book. Unfortunately for me, there wasn't a lot of meaningful advice on making information more readily findable. I noted a few good references, but that was about it.