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Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,367 ratings  ·  89 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, 188 pages
Published October 3rd 2005 by O'Reilly Media (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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Sarah Sammis
Jan 26, 2011 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
Alper Çuğun
Apr 12, 2012 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.

Dec 22, 2014 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. ...more
Nov 14, 2008 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 ...more
Mar 10, 2014 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.

Robert Bogue
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There have been times when I saw down with a topic and I just couldn’t get the words and the ideas to align. There were other times when the idea was so powerful that the words seemed insufficient. This is the case with Ambient Findability. Peter Morville is speaking of the changes in thinking that are happening all around us and how we acquire information. There’s research to support the fundamental premise that we acquire much of what we know based on passive and indirect access to information ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Did not finish this book. Maybe the description was erroneous, maybe I misunderstood, but I though this would tell me about the web and content. About how to organize content or at least what principles people use for information foraging. Instead I got a generic about the state of the art of technology in regards to findability. Mismatch. Might read for other purpose another day.
Angie Johnson
Jan 30, 2011 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. ...more
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Morville is a good writer, with interesting analogies, but I felt some of the chapters were not relevant to the focus of the book and sometimes the topics got off track.
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Required reading for school. Overall, this book has some good concepts. However, it is sadly out of date. I'm really surprised it's still included in the curriculum. Search engines and the way we interact with the web is so different from when this book first came out. The book mentions that Netflix is still mailing DVDs. There's a wary example of a GPS wrist device for children, which reminded me how everyone has those on their wrist's now with an Apple watch. It also has a lot of the "sky is f ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Desperately in need to a second edition, too much of this dated, with unfamiliar jargon that clearly never caught on. Doesn’t help that so many pop-cultural science and pop-tech writers have heavily mined (ie. ripped this off) in the years since it was written. I can see why it was highly influential at the time though. Was an assigned text for my library degree, makes me think the syllabus needs updating.
Brianna Sowinski
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
As far as assigned reading for my MILS goes this book was well written, entertaining and engaging. It was written in 2005 and could badly use some updating but I found many of the author's points have held up through and maybe even become better enforced through the changing technologies. I wonder what he would have to say about facebook... ugh. ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
To be fair, I‘d give it 2.5 stars.
It‘s not bad but seems to be not that relevant.
Also, don‘t get fooled by the blurb‘s questions along the lines of „How do people find ...?“ or „how is information structured?“ because you won‘t find real answers in this book. At least not in a technical sense, the book provides some vague ideas at the very best.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
amazing book

Amazing book that opens window to a much larger faculty. I came looking for something interesting I think I am going to dwell on this for years to come now..
Nathan Lowry
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
thought provoking informational book. I would recommend this to middle school readers and would find a spot for it on my classroom bookshelf
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
Stephen Redwood
Mar 02, 2013 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
Aug 28, 2013 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
Oct 04, 2007 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
Aug 15, 2012 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
Feb 21, 2011 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
Oct 28, 2014 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
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Ugh. I was given this book by a colleague who was very excited about it. I on the other hand found it a chore to finish it. The concepts and ideas were certainly interesting - to a point - but at most times it read like the equivalent of visiting some Future land exhibit of the past. It was interesting (again, only to a point) to see where the author thought computing would take us in the future. Also, I found most of the examples and pictures to really distract from the theory and despite the b ...more
Sep 09, 2007 rated it liked it
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 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
Feb 05, 2015 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 06, 2015 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.
Sep 08, 2007 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.
Sep 13, 2007 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. ...more
Nicole Wilkins
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It had a some interesting, practical examples in it but beyond that, I ended up not feeling like I got a whole lot out of it.

Also, one of the early chapters talked about how neat RFID chips are. Those things creep me out so I think the author and I just have different ideas about some things.
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Peter Morville is a pioneer of the fields of information architecture and user experience. He's been helping people to plan since 1994. Clients include AT&T, Cisco, eBay, Harvard, IBM, Macy's, the Library of Congress, and the National Cancer Institute. He has delivered keynotes and workshops in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. His work has been covered by Business Week, T ...more

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