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Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become Paperback – 6 Oct 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (6 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007652
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Publisher

A thought-provoking book that describes the future of information and connectivity, examining how the melding of innovations like GIS and the Internet will impact the global marketplace and society at large in the 21st century. Research, stories, examples, and illustrations add depth and color to this important subject. Written by best-selling author Peter Morville.

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 (morville@semanticstudios.com). You can also find him offline at 42.2 N 83.4 W or online at semanticstudios.com and findability.org.


Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book reminds me a lot of some of the theses I have read in the field of Human/Computer interaction. That shouldn't be too surprising since it covers material about the ways that people interact with information - the fun part is that computers and the web are treated as an outgrowth of a universal human activity. Morville's broad-minded approach led me to more than one epiphany concerning the mission and design of a new business venture, so for me, it was almost a perfect book: a detailed exposition of core principles which I could apply to my existing projects.

That said, I am not an expert in HCI, although I have been a software professional for over 20 years. Some aspects of this book may also be considered flaws by people who do not think in the same ways that I do. Peter Morville relies fairly heavily on analogical reasoning, and he seems to have a healthy aversion to extremes. So in a sense, his book doesn't answer any questions, but it strongly suggests that the process of exploration is probably the answer. He makes it very clear, to anyone who didn't already realize it, that we are in the midst of a major socio-cultural revolution and can almost seem pedantic at times. But I can honestly say that I felt every page was worth reading.

And once you've read it you'll understand how by writing this review I am intertwingled with the findability of his works, and with my own.
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This book is written in an easy to read, conversational style, almost in the tone of an extended blog post.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I guess you could say this is a meme map of Morville's observations, research and his ability to see into the future of the trends of Internet based technologies.

Its an interesting, and enlightening, discussion about what we as humans want and need from technology. It seems the text is intended to propagate more discussions and in turn discoveries around the subject of findability and technology. The book certainly makes you think about where we are heading as a society, but also the importance of the products we use and how they become integral to our lives.

Being able to orientate ourselves is a natural human instinct. In the 21st century, findability is a concept that we must ensure is present in the products that are developed.

Its an inspirational read for many reasons, never trying to present answers, but certainly showing the questions that we need to answer if we are to harness the information monster we have created.

You should expect to read something that will present concepts and not case studies or solutions to problems. This book is about the bigger picture and the troubles of information management we face as a society.

Verdict: A philosophical study of where we are, and where we are going that proves Morville is at the forefront of thought leadership when it comes to Information Architecture.
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The author takes a very conversational style and he uses a lot of his personal experiences to describe the world of information that we have come to live in, since the advent of the world wide web. He defines ambient and findability - although you get a better definition of ambient from Brian Eno towards the end of the book. What I didn't learn that I had hoped to learn is what to do to make my work "ambiently findable".

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.
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