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Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  945 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
How do you find your way in an age of information overload? How can you filter streams of complex information to pull out only what you want? Why does it matter how information is structured when Google seems to magically bring up the right answer to your questions? What does it mean to be "findable" in this day and age? This eye-opening new book examines the convergence o ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 3rd 2005 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2005)
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Jan 18, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, read2009
Author spends a lot of time talking about the history of wayfinding and uses a lot of mostly irrelevant glossy photos to illustrate along the way. Perhaps the glossy pictures are there to make the presentation more "interesting," but most do not add anything to the text.

I took away two key points from this book - one from chapter 6 and one from chapter 7 - the last two chapters in the book...

The first key point is that tagging information helps us locate it - but we need both the professional ta
Sarah Sammis
Sep 28, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing
Ambient Findability by Peter Morville is often used as a textbook in the reference course I took. The professor I took it from didn't include the book but the title and the fact that it was published by O'Reilly Media piqued my interest enough to want to read it as the class was starting up.

Although the description mentions information overload, the book isn't really about that. It's about how information and people hook up. There is the information that one seeks and that which falls into one's
Mar 17, 2014 Mikal rated it really liked it
Ambient Findability is an interesting and thought provoking read, the book dedicates itself towards the questions of how we can design into: a fast emerging world where we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime.

I use the phrase "design into" intentionally. The world for which Ambient Findability primarily concerns itself with has not yes been created, but to ensure the world exists we must begin designing into our products and services the constructs for such a solution.

Dec 31, 2014 tamarack rated it really liked it
really enjoyed what i got through before having this due back at the library. while i was pretty skeptical about picking up a tech book nearly a decade old, ambient findability is a creative nonfiction about information, wayfinding, mapping, storage & retrieval (and probably lots more i didn't get to). was delighted to find out the author is also a librarian.
Oct 13, 2013 Kiri rated it liked it
Shelves: library-science
This is a really interesting book that I really wanted to like more than I did. It's got a lot of great ideas, but it often dissolves into word-collage raves about the glowing future that technology will bring us... from the lens of 2005. Maybe it can't help being dated, but then there's the part where the author gushes about the possibility of his Treo (PDA/Smartphone) merging someday with his GPS unit so he could have ONE device that does BOTH THINGS.

Overall, the book is both thought-collectin
Alper Çugun
Apr 12, 2012 Alper Çugun rated it liked it
This book reads as an overview of most popsci/popphil books from the past twenty years and in many ways it is exactly that. There is some stuff about findability and some vision about the future it heralds, but it looks like Morville bites off more than he can chew.

I don't really know who this book is written for. The engaged professional will not read anything new and it is too wildly disparate and biased (but not nearly opinionated enough) to serve as an introductory text.

Jan 12, 2010 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: class-text
* Mentioned as read over break for 590RO. My succinct review, “tripe.”

* A story about how this book itself is not so ambiently findable, which I still find extremely humorous.
Sep 13, 2007 Mark added it
Shelves: media
Morville, though a guru in Information Architecture is not a very good or compelling writer. Most of his ideas were summaries of other "Big Idea" book ideas. Most interesting for his discussions on wayfinding and folksonomies - though, again, there are better books available on these subjects, many of which Morville quotes.
Oct 01, 2007 Alison marked it as unfinished
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the second time I have tried to read this and sort of lost interest before getting halfway through. (Should I be admitting that as a techie librarian? Probably not.) If I try this again, I will have to be sure to start at the halfway point.

As a side note, Morville is a fantastic speaker. I saw him last year.
Nov 14, 2008 Nate rated it it was ok
i once made a joke to my friend that this book was about finding tangerine dream records when browsing through a record store. if that was the case, i'm not sure if that would increase or decrease the amount of stars. i guess it depends on which era
Angie Johnson
Mar 01, 2011 Angie Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
Read this for grad school. Actually, much better than I expected. It was written long enough ago that all the discussions about social networking don't yet mention Facebook. Makes me realize how fast things advance in the technology world.
Lindsay Brrell
Nov 07, 2014 Lindsay Brrell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ux
This book has been a classic in the field of UX and, in general, this author has done so, so much to advance the field, I can't even. He's a winner. However, the book is pretty dated now. That's not the fault of the author; it's just that the field is changing so fast, and change is accelerating. If you are new to UX, this book is good background, presenting important concepts. If you're already really experienced, I might go for something more recent. If so, I suggest you stick with O'Reilly: y ...more
Amber Case
How do you find your way in an age of information overload? How can you filter streams of complex information to pull out only what you want? Why does it matter how information is structured when Google seems to magically bring up the right answer to your questions? What does it mean to be "findable" in this day and age? This eye-opening new book examines the convergence of information and connectivity. Written by Peter Morville, author of the groundbreaking Information Architecture for the Worl ...more
Sep 09, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it

So I'm coming back to UX as a topic, post-degree, for personal reasons. (Frankly I enjoyed this more than any other study area!)

This is a recommended text from my main study text, and on completion it's easy to see why - Morville has an easy to understand writing style, full of analogies to make his subject clearer, rather than threatening you with complexity.

There are some signs that this book is becoming a little dated, at least in the edition I've read, with regular references to the Treo a
Oleg Kagan
Sep 27, 2010 Oleg Kagan rated it really liked it
Shelves: idea-books
As a person who only last year finished a degree in Information Science, I must admit that a lot of Ambient Findability was review. That is not to say that it wasn't presented in a sensical way with the author's intellect and enthusiasm clearly visible.

When I picked up Ambient Findability I expected that it would be a SEO how-to, it was not. Instead the book took us through the hits of "findability" from wayfinding in ancient times to the present-day web and mobile devices (circa 2005, that is).
Stephen Redwood
Mar 31, 2013 Stephen Redwood rated it really liked it
Shelves: technology
Fascinating pot pourri of thoughts, facts and sources all focused on the topic of 'Ambient Findability', that is, the ubiquity of information that digital media now makes accessible to us all. Of course, the information may be out there and accessible, but human irrationality and bias makes us all too flawed in the way we select and interpret what we find and use. Peter Morville (author) has sourced some great quotes, including this one on the subject of bias from Herbert Simon: 'A man does not ...more
Oct 10, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: librarians, digital librarians, information professionals
Shelves: technology
This book is kind of a "state of the field" summary for information search and discovery, a hot topic these days. It covers the concepts of search and discovery, and findability, as well as the technologies that are currently developing and show promise (though it was published in 2005, so it's a bit out of date already). There is some discussion of how to make things findable, the relevance to libraries and information-based institutions, and what knowledge might look like in another few years. ...more
Feb 19, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok
The topic of the book was really interesting, and the first couple chapters were gripping. Unfortunately, the familiar tone and tangents eventually lost my interest and I skimmed much of the middle and end. After reflection, (how could something so interesting eventually become so hard to finish?) I realized the tone was like a Ted-Talk, and the more I thought about it, I realized it would be really interesting to listen to this author tell me everything in the book as a Ted-Talk, but reading th ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Kathleen added it
Shelves: class, 202
This one is tough to rate. It is a fun and interesting read, but it feels like it's mostly full of trivia. I learned a lot of cool "Did you know?!" type of things, but not so much that felt really academic. I had loved this book at the start, but (as other reviews I've read mentioned) it feels like the whole book is an introduction.

If you're interested in a light read about how people use information, give this a shot.
May 15, 2011 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A coworker loaned this book to me, but I don't think enough time has elapsed since graduation (almost ten years ago!) for me to be able to enjoy an academic book. I wanted it to be practical and applicable, or I wanted to read about research presented in layman's terms. Instead, this felt very conceptual and theoretical and historical.

The last three chapters were ok, but I still don't feel like I learned much. For most of the book I felt like I'd walked into the room in the middle of a conversat
Dec 31, 2015 Ashley rated it did not like it
I was required to read this drivel for one of my MLIS classes. Such a load of hogwash. I can't believe the average rating is 3.74! What are you all thinking? I'm disappointed I can't go lower than one...
John Fredrickson
Jun 19, 2016 John Fredrickson rated it liked it
Shelves: computer, cultural
In many ways, this was an excellent read. I rated it only 3 stars because it feels very dated. I would love for the author to write a cross between this and his Information Architecture books.
Mark Denney
Mar 18, 2015 Mark Denney rated it really liked it
The technology discussed is outdated, but the concepts are not. This is what is happening now. We are connected and we can find anything whenever because of our devices and the internet.
Sep 09, 2007 Penny rated it liked it
Shelves: coursebooks
I enjoyed this quick tour of information and how we find and use it. I appreciated the balanced view Morville presents. On the one hand, there is optimism, because so much information is so accessible to so many people. On the other hand, there is a thoughtful acknowledgment of the "dark side:" information overload, possible threats to privacy, and our proneness to the fast food mentality in how we consume information.

I read this for a class, so I might have more to say after I get the chance to
Nov 12, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
I came for my grad school class, I stayed because it's just plain interesting stuff. How we access information, how often, and in what form says a lot about who we are, who we want to be, and to some extent it says something about how happy and fulfilled we are in our everyday lives, from moment to moment. We need good information to make good decisions, but who is the source? Do we trust information from The Man of mainstream media, or do we trust our favorite blogger who simply tells us what w ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Qristina rated it liked it
I registered a book at!
Quick read, and an interesting insight. Picked up a thing or two from this book. It is not a 'reference book'. Discovery is complex....
Mar 05, 2016 HkMar rated it really liked it
Great textbook on IR systems and fundamental concept of IR. Read this for school in the spring semester.
Cathy Wood
For Information Retrieval Systems Design course
Dec 27, 2014 Sharon rated it did not like it
Having finished the book, I still can't tell you what its thesis is. It could be: Findability is important! Or: Hey, here's some books I've read! There's no cohesion, lots of gee-whiz techno-optimism and marketing speak, and a disappointing lack of detail from someone who's a thought leader in information architecture.

My recommendation is to borrow this book and flip through the footnotes. He cites a lot of interesting work, and you can create yourself a list of books and articles that will be
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Peter Morville is a pioneer of the fields of information architecture and user experience. He advises such clients as AT&T, Cisco, Harvard, IBM, Macy's, the Library of Congress, and the National Cancer Institute. He has delivered conference keynotes in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. His work has been covered by Business Week, The Economist, NPR, and The Wall Street ...more
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“The journey transforms the destination.” 7 likes
“Librarians are on the front lines of an invisible struggle over our information diet and, for better or worse, the scales are not tipping in their direction.” 0 likes
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