Peter Morville is the president of a leading information architecture firm and the definitive authority on a concept he refers to as findability. In his 2005 book Ambient Findability , he explores information architecture and navigability on the web, concepts that are becoming increasingly crucial for any business or organization.
These ideas are certainly covered in other works, but the scope of Morville's investigation really sets it apart. He breaks down the usability of internet technologies and marketing for search engines, but whittles it all down to basic human instincts such as wayfinding and a fear of being lost in a physical sense. It's a fresh perspective and a great way to make some sense of what is happening to us in the digital age.
Morville speaks of an increasingly connected world in which participants are actually becoming displaced from their immediate surroundings: think of how many times you've escaped into your smart phone to avoid an unfavorable situation.
We are experiencing a major cultural shift away from documents and even desktop computers and towards a world in which we are mobile and always connected.
In addition to the platforms, the actual sources of information represent an even more significant transformation. We used to have a small number of high authority resources to consult while today we are bombarded with endless websites popping up in Google and vying for our attention and trust. In an era where anyone can publish, who are we to believe?
Morville establishes a set of guidelines for information literacy that will allow us to effectively navigate through the glut of information and locate what we are looking for all the while acknowledging that there isn't a simple "right answer" anymore.
The book was written five years ago, and in such a rapidly changing field that may seem too long to be effective. But the fact that Morville's investigation links digital technologies with basic human survival instincts means that his findings transcend any particular time frame: they will be valuable as long as findability continues to evolve.