Gone Fishin'

After years of loyal service, has retired. This is the last post. Thanks for all of your support and encouragement over the past nine years. Peter Morville is now blogging over at See you there!

Sanibel Island

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Viral Video

The Library of Congress recently began uploading videos to their very own YouTube Channel including the first moving image ever made.

It's exciting to see the Library using multiple channels including iTunes, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and a blog to share and spotlight its amazing collections.

Strange Connections

Have you ever noticed the search, discover, and share options that YouTube provides at the conclusion of embedded videos?

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Gone Fishin'

We're headed to Sanibel Island to warm our frostbitten fingers and toes.

Sanibel Island

But it won't be all play. We'll be refining our seashell discovery algorithms.

Strange Connections

I'm also collecting examples (e.g., Newssift, Elastic Lists, Crimespotting) of scented widgets and sparklines in search. What are your favorites? Thanks!

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Metrics for Memes 07

Since the 2002 IA Summit, I've been informally and irregularly tracking the number of hits for a handful of search terms.

Metrics for Memes

Findability's growing faster than ever (see 2005), but information architecture has hit a wall. I blame the acronymists and folksonomists.

Strange Connections

Looks like Wi-Fi signals will enable location awareness, alongside GPS, RFID, and cellular triangulation.

Finding Time is must see UXTV.

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Folksonomies and Faceted Navigation

Pete Bell of Endeca turned me onto the fascinating, faceted, folksonomic innovations going on at Buzzillions.


Here's what Pete had to say:

One of our customers just launched a beta of the most interesting integration of folksonomies and faceted navigation that I've seen so far. It balances the rigidity of facets built from a controlled vocabulary with the potential anarchy of raw folksonomies.

Users can iteratively refine their search using any combination of controlled vocabulary terms and user contributed tags. To see where these faceted tags come from, find a product and then select Write a Review. I plan to explore further when I have the chance, but at first glance, it looks very nicely done!

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Finding Lost Things

Timo just posted Ambient Findability in Practice which features the Loc8tor, a nifty gadget for keeping found things found.


And, if you lose the handheld, your panic tag will locate the Loc8tor. They've thought of everything. Anyone know of similar products available in the U.S.?

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Laughing Lemur 2.0

Together with my publisher and sponsor O'Reilly Media, I'm pleased to announce yet another laughing lemur contest (see also: 1.0, 2.0).

Ambient Findability T-Shirt

To win, you must come to the IA Summit, find one of these catalog cards, find a nut, and find me. When you give the card and the nut to me, I'll give you an official limited edition Ambient Findabili T. See you in Vancouver!

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Mobile Findable Objects

Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo, Michigan is using what Bruce Sterling calls the Cisco Spime Tracker to solve the wheelchair location problem:

A quick glance at the screen shows exactly where the tagged wheelchairs are located...Patients wait no more than a few minutes for a wheelchair, and we save $28,000 a month by eliminating searches.

Cisco explains that "hospitals are unable to find between 10 and 15 percent of the devices they own...devices are mostly misplaced rather than stolen."

Strange Connections

Johns Hopkins University enables wireless Internet access on their campus shuttle buses, while simultaneously providing real-time shuttle bus tracking in Google Earth. I recommend watching the buses with your kids while singing the wheels on the bus. It's probably even cooler when you're actually on the bus.

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Ambient Findability Image Collection

Inspired by Livia Labate's bibliography, I decided to create (with help from O'Reilly) an Ambient Findability Image Collection on Flickr.

Ambient Findability Images

Feel free to use these visuals (with attribution) in your articles, blogs, and conference presentations. And, if you prefer to blink outside the book, there's still lots of flickry findability fun in the Laughing Lemur Collection.

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Lemur is Slashdotted

Mary Norbury-Glaser posted an in-depth book review of Ambient Findability on Slashdot. My favorite passages include:

With the publication of Ambient Findability, O'Reilly Media continues this tradition of giving readers an opportunity to experience the visionary writing of people like Peter Morville.
Peter Morville's Ambient Findability will amaze and delight you. It will give you new insight into how ubiquitous computing is affecting how we find and use information and how we, as users, can and will shape the future of how data is stored and retrieved.

Slashdot today. NPR tomorrow. This is a great start to the new year!

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Metrics for Memes

At the 2002 IA Summit, while talking about New Roles in Information Architecture, I showed the number of Google Hits for a handful of related search terms.

Annual Rate of Growth Spreadsheet

Since then, it's been interesting to periodically review the annual growth rates of these user experience memes, and fun to explore the questions they raise.

For instance, why is usability continuing to outpace information architecture and user experience? And why is findability the fastest growing meme on the list?

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Lemur Travels

With just over a week left, the Laughing Lemur Contest is now in full swing with colorful entries appearing from around the world.

Laughing Lemur Contest Photos

And, after returning from London yesterday, I'm about to wrap up my tri-continental book publicity tour with a visit to Brazil. I'm looking forward to meeting up with information architects and findability fanatics in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. I'm also looking forward to coming home to Ann Arbor and getting some rest. It's been an exciting but exhausting couple of months.

Strange Connections

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Findability Swag

Worried about what to buy your loved ones for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve? Then swing on over to Findable Objects.

Findability Swag

We've got mugs, hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, magnets, postcards, bibs for babies, and teddy bears (but no lemurs). At Findable Objects, you're sure to find what you need, but act fast, while supplies last. And thank Q for design.

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Ambient Findability Bibliography

Livia Labate has created a ambient findability bibliography which guides readers to all sorts of sources of inspiration. Thanks Liv!

Strange Connections

  • Last week, after fifteen years of careful consideration, scientists named a "new" species of lemur after John Cleese. So, please join me in welcoming the avahi cleesei, quickly, before it's extinct.
  • The challenge of importing lemurs into Spain.
  • Fun new entries in the laughing lemur contest.

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Ambient Findability in Business Week

Business Week has just published my interview, which was conducted by Liz Danzico of AIGA:

The Impact of Ambient Findability

The Lemur in Business Week. Very cool!

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The Memetic Web

What if Tim Berners-Lee had pitched his idea for the World Wide Web to me back in 1989? That was the strange question dancing through my head after a magical evening with Holly and Bob Doyle.

After a long day teaching IA1, the prospect of dinner with two certified geniuses (both have doctorates in astrophysics from Harvard) was a bit intimidating.

But they turned out to be friendly, down-to-earth folks, and I found Bob's enthusiasm for his latest idea, the memetic web, to be inspiring and contagious.

The proposition, as explained on, is simple. Create a globally unique string or meme ID. Paste this string into relevant web pages. Wait for search engines to crawl the pages. Then use the meme ID to search with 100% precision and recall. And you can even create an aboutness page to define your meme, so others can use it properly.

Of course, the real challenges are far from simple. What about the known problems of inter- and intra-indexer inconsistency? What about meme ID spamming? And isn't this too complex to achieve widespread adoption?

On the other hand, free tagging has created an unquenchable thirst for specificity. Intentional misspellings like indicatr and statistically improbable phrases like ambientfindability will only take us so far.

So, I'm not totally on board, but I do think Bob's onto something, sorta like TBL back in 1989. What do you think?

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Fresh Content

Yesterday, A List Apart published a brief excerpt from Ambient Findability that's called Findability Hacks, and I published a cheeky Semantics article named Authority. And to top off the day, Craig Newmark of craigslist wrote a review in which he recommends the lemur. Very cool.

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Ambient Findability Roundup

The book has been publicly available for less than a week. Only a few days if you count shipping. I'm dying for feedback, but hardly anyone's had a chance to read it. I've been spending way too much time checking the Amazon Sales Rank and scouring Technorati, Google Blog Search, and PubSub for reviews. So, I might as well share what I've found:

Towards Findability by Tim Boyd.

Ambient Findability and the Google Economy by Casey Bisson.

Must Read: Ambient Findability by Casey Bisson.

What We Find Changes Who We Become by Gary Hayes.

Ambient Findability by Raymond Brigleb.

And I did notice the Lemur at Web 2.0 (hiding just beneath the fold). So, thanks for the generous reviews and links and emails. Please keep them coming!

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Infonomia Interview

I was flattered a few years back to find I'd been included in the star-studded list of Grandes Infonomistas, so when Adria Heath suggested an Infonomia interview, I was happy to oblige. And if a splash of Spanish disturbs you, here's the English version.

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Ambient Findability Interviews

This is the most current and comprehensive list of Ambient Findability interviews in the known universe.

Tagsonomy (postscript to Authority).

The Geospatial Web (OnPoint on NPR).

A VerySpatial Podcast by Sue and Jesse.

Entrepreneur Magazine (WS Radio).

Infonomia (mostly in English).

Link by Bruno Garattoni (Portuguese).

Interview by Tomy Lorsch (Spanish).

Fucinaweb by Antonio Volpon.

NFAIS (members only).

Information in Formation by Roy Christopher and Ryan Lane.

UBC Google Scholar by Dean Giustini.

Business Week and AIGA Voice by Liz Danzico.

Boxes & Arrows by Liz Danzico.

SXSW Studio SX by Liz Danzico (Quicktime and MPEG-4).

Washington Post (Online Discussion).

If I've missed an interview, please let me know.

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Ambient Findability Book Reviews

This is the most current and comprehensive list of Ambient Findability book reviews in the known universe.


In addition to those included here, you will find editorial reviews and customer reviews on Amazon and at O'Reilly.

Edge Perspectives by John Hagel.

A New Frontier: Exploring Findability by Matt Ball.

When Needles Outnumber Haystacks by Barnes & Noble.

Information Wants to be Found by Chris Sherman.

Review by James Kalbach.

Slashdot Review by Mary Norbury-Glaser.

Onfocus Review by Paul Bausch.

Towards Findability by Tim Boyd.

Ambient Findability and the Google Economy by Casey Bisson.

Must Read: Ambient Findability by Casey Bisson.

A Quick but Enthusiastic Review by Eclectic Bill.

What We Find Changes Who We Become by Gary Hayes.

Cathedral or Bazaar? by Erica Reynolds.

Review by Mitch Frank.

Book Review on Skipease.

Ambient Findability? by Gabe D'Annunzio.

Digital Web Book Review by D. Keith Robinson.

Brief Review by W. Frederick Zimmerman.

Book Review by Keith Hinde.

Book Review by George Woolley.

Sandbox Review by Peter Merholz.

Mantex Review by Roy Johnson.

Book Review by Thomas Duff.

Ambient Findability: A Must Read by Kathy Bryce.

Morville's Ambient Findability by Fred Stutzman.

Ambient Findability by Raymond Brigleb.

Recommendation by Craig Newmark (of craigslist).

Book Review by Adena Schutzberg (Directions Magazine).

Book Review by T.D. Wilson (Information Research).

Walking in the Web by Evan Zimmermann.

Ambient Findability Enthusiasm on Slashgeo.

Book Review by Nate Klaiber.

Ambient Findability by Emma Tonkin.

Ambient Findability by Regnard Kreisler C. Raquedan.

Advance Praise

I'm also eternally grateful to these folks for their support and generosity.

"A lively, enjoyable and informative tour of a topic that's only going to become more important."
-- David Weinberger, Author, Small Pieces Loosely Joined and The Cluetrain Manifesto

"I envy the young scholar who finds this inventive book, by whatever strange means are necessary. The future isn't just unwritten--it's unsearched."
-- Bruce Sterling, Writer, Futurist, and Co-Founder, The Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Search engine marketing is the hottest thing in Internet business, and deservedly so. Ambient Findability puts SEM into a broader context and provides deeper insights into human behavior. This book will help you grow your online business in a world where being found is not at all certain."
-- Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D., Author, Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

"Information that's hard to find will remain information that's hardly found -- from one of the fathers of the discipline of information architecture, and one of its most experienced practitioners, come penetrating observations on why findability is elusive and how the act of seeking changes us."
-- Steve Papa, Founder and Chairman, Endeca

"Whether it's a fact or a figure, a person or a place, Peter Morville knows how to make it findable. Morville explores the possibilities of a world where everything can always be found--and the challenges in getting there--in this wide-ranging, thought-provoking book."
-- Jesse James Garrett, Author, The Elements of User Experience

"It is easy to assume that current searching of the World Wide Web is the last word in finding and using information. Peter Morville shows us that search engines are just the beginning. Skillfully weaving together information science research with his own extensive experience, he develops for the reader a feeling for the near future when information is truly findable all around us. There are immense implications, and Morville's lively and humorous writing brings them home."
-- Marcia J. Bates, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles

"I've always known that Peter Morville was smart. After reading Ambient Findability, I now know he's (as we say in Boston) wicked smart. This is a timely book that will have lasting effects on how we create our future."
-- Jared Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering

"In Ambient Findability, Peter Morville has put his mind and keyboard on the pulse of the electronic noosphere. With tangible examples and lively writing, he lays out the challenges and wonders of finding our way in cyberspace, and explains the mutually dependent evolution of our changing world and selves. This is a must read for everyone and a practical guide for designers."
-- Gary Marchionini, Ph.D., University of North Carolina

"Find this book! Anyone interested in making information easier to find, or understanding how finding and being found is changing, will find this thoroughly researched, engagingly written, literate, insightful and very, very cool book well worth their time. Myriad examples from rich and varied domains and a valuable idea on nearly every page. Fun to read, too!"
-- Joseph Janes, Ph.D., Founder, Internet Public Library

If I've missed a review, please let me know.

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Leapin' Lemurs

It's been a long haul, but the lemur book is almost here. With a projected in-stock date of September 27, it's not too early to pre-order.

In the meantime, you can read the first chapter (PDF) and table of contents, and check out some advance praise:

"I envy the young scholar who finds this inventive book, by whatever strange means are necessary. The future isn't just unwritten -- it's unsearched." - Bruce Sterling
"A lively, enjoyable and informative tour of a topic that's only going to become more important." - David Weinberger

Oh, and it's not too late to learn about our prosimian relatives from the island of Madagascar, though sadly, lemurs are in danger of becoming unfindable.

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You Are Here

Welcome to the next generation. In case you haven't noticed, it's a borg. I mean, it's a blog. Yes, after years of quiet resistance, I've succumbed to the call of the blogosphere. I've been assimilated.

In blogging, my most transparent and prosaic goal is to promote my new book, Ambient Findability. I've poured blood, sweat, and tears into this strange text, so I won't be shy about inviting folks to read it.

That said, I'm hoping this blog will go beyond the book. As my classification scheme hints, I'll be writing about authority, business, culture, design, search, ubicomp, etc. And let's not forget the oft-maligned category of miscellaneous. I very much reserve the right to write about seemingly random topics.

So, if you want the original findability, it's there but not here. And if you like this new place, please come again, or better yet, leave a piece of yourself behind.

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