Annotations from Ambient Findability

April 20, 2006 at 2:37 pm 2 comments

Ambient Findability by Peter Morville is a book about ubiquitous computing, information overload, virtual space, information architecture, and how these all affect our present and future.  I think I read the concept here first of information literacy as a '…core life skill.' (p.7).  This too, is the missing chapter in "Information Architecture as mentioned elsewhere.

p.ix  Information Architecture…another book coauthored by Morville

p.x Morville's websites:,

p.xiii  Safari means the book is available online?  Check it out: "….Try it for free at; additional info about the book at http://www.oreilly.ocm/catalog/ambient.  My fingers and neurons still remember typing 'catalog' on the ol' Apple II.  Yeah, good times.

p.1  How much is a Treo 600?

p.2  Mentions some companies at the interface of object/network findability: Ambient Devices, Delicious Library look interesting.

p.4  Findability = quality of being locatable or navigable; The degree to which a particular object is easy to discover or locate; The degree to which a system or environment supports navigation and retrieval.

p.6  Ambient = surrounding encircling; completely enveloping.  Ambient findability = a fast emerging world where we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime.

p.7  It's almost impossible to function in modern society without mastering the skills of written communication.  But it's not enough.  Gone are the days when we can look up the "right answer" in the family encyclopedia.  There are many answers in many places.  Transmedia information literacy is a core life skill.

Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize what information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.  Knowledge workers are paid for their ability to find, filter, analyze, create, and otherwise manage information.

p.10 Discussing web site design, most site designers build from the top down, the home page down, but many users will never see your home page.

p.12 The Long Tail and its effect on the market (and the library, here) is discussed by Chris Anderson.

p.13 mentions Richard Fenyman's talk "There's plenty of room at the bottom" that launched the field of nanotechnology.

p.14 mentions the Internet Lost and Found and Arthur C. Clarke's comment "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

p.17 wayfinding is a fancy word for the series of things people know and do in order to get form one place to another, inside or outside.

p.26  Lynch's book "The Image of the City" discusses environmental legibility and elements for modern wayfinding: paths, edges, districts, nodes, landmarks

p.30  Solutions for the problems of wayfinding: provide information in sequence – info about destination zones provided once visitors are in the building; on signs and maps only a small number written items – only three at most can be read at a glance.; sacrifice reality for simplicity; use multiple means to communicate the same information – the importance of redundancy – to guarantee the message gets across.  Keep it simple don't make me think, Steve Krug and Jakob Nielsen.

p.31  …the vital importance of empathy for the user.  Only by understanding and caring about the perspective of the individual can we design useful, usable solutions.

p.33  Cool word – noosphere, Teilhard de Chardin, "the sphere of human thought" all the interacting minds and ideas on earth. "We use language to construct a world of words that are, in a very real sense, navigable.

p.34  describes how Cicero used to make two hour speeches without notes by constructing a palace whose rooms and furnishings, as he imagined himself roaming through them, called up the ideas he wished to discuss:ideas made memorable by locating them in space.  Mentions Vannevar Bush's classic essay "As we may think" and the memex: an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.  Aside from the uncomfortable silliness of the description "enlarged intimate" this sounds pretty good.  Like Doctorow's outboard brain.

p.38  People experience the web as type of space in which they move, "Metaphors we surf the web by" by Paul P. Maglio and Teenie Matlock.  We 'move' from place to place, but without moving.  "The link was two clicks deep in the taxonomy," but the distance is not real.  There's always a shortcut and another route.  David Weinberger describes the issue in "Small Pieces Loosely Joined."  A meat-space store places bananas as far from the entrance as possible so a customer has to walk past all the potential impulse buys on the way.  In cyberspace customers won't stand for that, "…they will remember they are only one click away from your competition."  Everything can be a click away = everything should be a click away.  Don't get in the way of customer navigation!  I am also reminded of the periodic concerns of online versions of newspapers with 'deep linking,' or linking directly to content within a site, bypassing the front page (where all the ads are).


Entry filed under: Ambient Findability, Information Architecture, information literacy.

Virtual cleaning More from Ambient Findability

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