Sunday, November 06, 2005

Library or Marketplace? Cathedral or Bazaar? Yes. Morville’s Ambient Findability

Woo hoo! I just finished Peter Morville’s book Ambient Findability. I actually started it on my trip to Monterey and IL05, and quotes from the book quickly wove themselves into our presentation, but this weekend was my first chance to complete my dive into the book.

It’s a fantastic read full of engaging ideas, history, research, philosophy, practice, cool new tech, and ancient questions that continue to challenge us and which remind about everything I liked about library school.

I also really like his writing style that is sort of Whitman-esque as he skips from cathedrals to tsunamis to text chat, from shorelines to beehives, and from platypuses to fire to flickr. Everyone involved in libraries, information, and the Web should read it.

Some of my favorite quotes:
“Information is about communication. It involves the exchange of symbols, ideas, messages, and meaning between people. As such, it’s characterized by ambiguity, redundancy, inefficiency, error, and indescribable beauty.” (46)

“ ‘having information is painful and troublesome’ ” ~ Calvin Mooers

“Our ability to make informed decisions will depend on how we allocate attention and trust, how we define authority, and how we employ metaphor.” (154)

Some of my favorite ideas:
Folksonomies, taxonomies, and more. It’s a both/and world
I loved his discussion of metadata, and the way he embraces both the traditional and the cutting edge. It’s sort of a something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue kind of theory, and it totally works for me. It also reminded me of one my favorite MD quotes: “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.”

“Semantic Web tools and standards create a powerful, enduring foundation. Taxonomies and ontologies provide a solid semantic network that connects interface to infrastructure. And the fast-moving, fashionable folksonomies site on top: flexible, adaptable, and responsive to user feedback. And over time, the lessons learned at the top are passed down, embedded into the more enduring layers of social and semantic infrastructure. This is the future of findability and sociosemantic navigation: a rich tapestry of words and code that builds upon the strange connections between people and content and metadata.” (141)

“To manage complexity we must embrace faceted classification, polyhierarchy, pluralistic adboutness, and pace layering." (153)

From Marcia Bates (don’t call her Marsha ; ) Users don’t use library methods or systems. They use what’s easy. (61) Accessibility is “ ‘the single most important variable governing the use of information.’ ” (160)

People like computer systems that flatter them. Should our Web page flatter our patrons? (55)
Design matters. Good design= credible information, happy patrons (56)

Collaborative foraging, expert way-finding, information transfer, and symbolic communication: what can we learn from honeybees? (20, 61)

Oh, yeah: honeycomb: Morville’s honeycomb of user experience (109)
Modules of the honeycomb: Useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, valuable
“More opening move than endgame, it gets people talking about qualities absent from the diagram and catalyzes discussion about goals and priorities. Is it more important to be desirable or accessible? How about usable or credible? In truth, it depends on the site’s unique mix of context, content, and users, and any tradeoffs are better made explicitly than unconsciously.” (109)

Humans are irrational. We don’t know what we want, and we change on minds on that. And yet, we try to build computer systems that figure out what we want. Bounded irrationality (156)

You are not the user ~ The experience is the brand. ~ You can’t control the experience.

You can’t use what you can’t find.

What we find changes who we become.

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Flickr: ambientfindability


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