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Ambient Findability (Anglais) Broché – 11 octobre 2005

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Ambient Findability Written by the author of "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web", this book examines the convergence of information and connectivity. It discusses the Internet, GIS, and other network technologies that make unlimited findability possible, and explores how the melding of these innovations impacts society. Full description

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x90313a80) étoiles sur 5 60 commentaires
122 internautes sur 130 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8fda71d4) étoiles sur 5 Frustrating - a few good references, but no good insights 19 janvier 2006
Par John H. Kaplan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Ambient Findability can be summed up as follows: There is a lot of information on the web so it's hard to find what you want, it's going to get worse, and the author claims to know what to do about it but won't tell you.

The book starts out with great promise. I believed it would contain insights, sage advice, and practical details about how to make my web pages findable to my audience. The first couple of chapters were great introductory material, and they whetted my appetite for the meaty material that was sure to follow.

Then, there was some more introductory material, and I began to notice that the author threw a lot of quotes around but didn't explore them very deeply, and threw in illustrations of things mentioned in passing in the book that really didn't illuminate anything. For example, he mentioned the Tower of Babel, and then presented an illustration of a Bruegel painting of it, which illustrated... not much. After a dozen of these you wonder if they were just trying to make the book look bigger.

Around page 100 or so, I wondered if the author would ever stop glossing over introductory material, and actually get to the meat of the book. Unfortunately this never happened as far as I was concerned, and so my frustration. Ambient Findability never delivered any practical tips or any insightful theories that could help an aspiring web designer.

One thing you can say for the author, he has read a lot of great books, and Ambient Findability contains references to many great classics worth reading, including Blink, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the Cluetrain Manifesto, and Don't Make Me Think. I wish the author had chosen to emulate those books and had worked to develop and present some insights of his own, rather than just drop quotes from other sources. As it is, this book is good for gathering a few references to other better literature, and not much else.
42 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8fda95f4) étoiles sur 5 Great topics but written like a long blog 8 janvier 2007
Par Pat - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
My everyday work involves search engines, both using them for research and developing the technology. I was deeply impressed by the lengthy and highly enthusiastic reviews posted here. One day, I wandered into a bookstore and saw the book. I bought it without even opening it. I have to say that given the high expectation, I was quite disappointed by the book.

I read the book in detail for most parts of it and skimmed through the rest of it. The book I like most is that it is not just about Google, blog search, myspace, etc. It attempted to give a broad analysis of the topic, mostly from non-technical viewpoints, drawing literatures from very diversified sources, AI, social science, politics, history, etc. I learned terms like folksonomies, boundary objects and a lot of stories and quotes that I can use to make my next presentation on the same subject more interesting. This is what I gained from the book.

The main weakness of the book is twofold. First, the book does not help you understand more about the problem of findability and where the future might be, let alone giving you a hint on the solution; it repeats what most people have already known and re-asserted it with more discussions and examples. Second, the writing adopted a style commonly found in online articles and blogs. Beautiful but confusing statements. The style is good for online writing where creating controversies and arguments is an important goal of writing, but I won't expect it from a book. For example, on Page 38, the author said "... visualization approaches fail because there's no there there." It is not only hard to understand, but once you do you find it not true. The purpose of information visualization is not to represent pages in 3D space with edges representing the distances between pages (see what the author quoted in the same paragraph) but one of the important goals, and obstacles, is to extract the themes of the pages and connect the themes based on their semantic relationships. A careful look at Fig 2-14, a screendump from Grokker, would reveal that what were shown on the screen were topics, not pages. On Page 143, when talking about a client's website become unsearchable because texts on the pages were rendered as images, the author said "one the web, the journey often begins with the destination." Beautiful, but the truthfulness of the statement depends on which end of the pipe you are looking into. There are too many examples like these that don't stand deep logical reasoning. A full elaboration will make this review too long.

After reading the book, I felt like I have read a long blog from the author. Like reading any blog written by great minds, you often find shining ideas here and there, but you have to endure the style of writing and imprecisions, and organize the thoughts yourself. This is what the author advocated anyway (Chapter 7 Inspired Decisions).
17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x902ac828) étoiles sur 5 What You Can't Find, You'll Never Know. Read This Book. 3 octobre 2005
Par Casey Bisson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Morville's work is the most appropriate follow-on to the usability concepts so well promoted by Steven Krug in his Don't Make Me Think and Jakob Nielsen in Designing Web Usability. "Findability," Morville argues, is a necessary component in the success and propagation of an idea or detail or fact. Business and non-profits alike will benefit from understanding the value of findability.

Obviously, findability serves more than just internet marketers and hucksters. Morville offers an example of a nonprofit medical research agency and how the findability -- in this case, the search engine ranking of their web content -- affected people's ability to get authoritative, quality information on the web.

"[T]he [web development] team", Morville writes, "had to look beyond the narrow goals of web site design, to see their role in advancing the broader mission of disseminating [...] information to people in need."

Morville could have asked "if a remarkable idea springs up in the forest, but it doesn't show up in the first page of Google search results, is it really all that remarkable?" But findability is more than that, and there's a lot more to the book. Morville discusses findability in depth, considering both its current and possible future implications. Eventually, of course, findability will butt up against our notions of privacy, and Morville explores that as well.

Though the book will serve information architects, software designers building anything related to web content management, web designers, marketers, and PR flacks well, its real gift is to the teachers, researchers, librarians, and public servants who handle so much valuable data that must (or, in some cases, must not) be findable.
47 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8fdc8750) étoiles sur 5 Infuriatingly Fluffy 26 décembre 2005
Par Jennifer L. Stock - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I am deeply disappointed with O"Reilly. It is with them that I place the most blame for the personal misfortune I have suffered from paying $29.95 for this book. Their line of books has been consistently timely and exhaustive of the major technology topics of the day. When I discovered this title in their catalog, I was excited by the possibility of finding a solid work on some of the emerging ontological challenges and characteristics of the modern Web. But that is not what this text is, and for the reasons listed below, I don't believe they should ever have allowed this book to be published.

My chief complaint is Morville's inability to do more than leap around a subject, quoting other sources aggressively but shedding no original light of his own. This is combined with the unfortunate editorial choice of using the same symbols for both footnotes and bibliographic entries. It seemed that he did a poor job of citing all his sources; if he cited them as often as required, the pages would bristle with numbers, because the text is such a hodgepodge of other people's words and ideas.

The entire book reads like the first few pages of a scope document, or a sales pitch, wild with glib, facile, sophomoric rhetoric, lacking any substance, intended to excite and to provoke, but providing nothing to back up the emotional language. And some of it is downright incomprehensible: "Our future will be at least as messy as our present. But we will muddle through as usual, satisficing under conditions of bounded rationality. And if we are lucky, and if we make good decisions about how to intertwingle our lives with technology, perhaps we too can reclaim a fragment of asylum." (p.97)

When the work is original, it often disintegrates into a series of terse and mostly unhelpful definition lists.

I kept asking myself: where is the value add? The text is profusely illustrated in a high-color format unusual for an O'Reilly book, but the images consist of low-resolution screen grabs which are largely unnecessary for an understanding of the material under discussion. This whiff of "shovelware" is unsurprising, given Morville's research methodology: "For most of my research, I found what I needed from where I sit, via the free Web, online databases, and my personal bookshelf." (p.172)

The only concrete recommendations concerning increasing findability that I could glean are to stay away from bitmapped (i.e. graphic, not live) text in websites and replace "pushy" marketing messages with more verbose link descriptions. Perhaps the text would have been more focused if the author was able to define his professional identity more clearly. In each chapter he seemed to wear a different hat: designer, librarian, information architect, findability engineer. For him, "words are messy little critters" (p.15) but for the money I paid for this book and the time I invested in reading it, I would have hoped for an author with a little more control over the English language.

In a positive light, there are a few interesting anecdotes, mostly personal, and an explanation of the term "folksonomy" and the popularity and power of sites like Flicker and Delicious that those unfamiliar with the rise of user-contributed keywords as means of organizing large amounts of dynamic information will find helpful. And he makes the excellent point that web developers should pay attention to how their site is being found, and that viewing the discipline of search engine optimization as somehow sleazy or secondary is an excuse to ignore questions of context and to shirk one's responsibility to the user.

But as a whole, I cannot recommend this book, and am in fact going out of my way to warn other people about its content. Morville is a bright guy and he certainly has his mind in some interesting places. But I would have been better off reading his website. The material in "Ambient Findability" has all the buzzword-dense charm of the web but it exhibits its often frustrating lack of deep scholarship and originality. I hope O'Reilly exercises more caution in its selections for future titles of a more general nature.
24 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x8fdd4564) étoiles sur 5 Many good references but not very concrete 30 janvier 2006
Par John Wetherbie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
The back cover description of Ambient Findability begins with the following paragraph:

How do people find their way through an age of information overload? How can people combine streams of complex information to filter out only the parts they want? Why does it matter how information is structured when Google seems to magically bring up the right answer to people's questions?

If you expect these questions to be answered or even addressed at a reasonable level of detail then you will be disappointed. Ambient Findability is more like a collection of essays related to findability than a book about how to improve the design and implementation of products, information, web sites, etc., to make them easier to find. Because of some repetition across chapters and many figures that are unnecessary the book could be shorter than its short 179 pages.

The first chapter, Lost and Found, discusses how information is being used in new and interesting ways, presents a definition of findability, and a brief case study of work the author did on the National Cancer Institute web site. Chapter two presents how people have determined their location and how to get to where they want to go through history. Chapter Three, Information Interaction, reviews the difficulties of classifying and finding information and discusses Mooers (not a typo) Law which states that people will avoid obtaining information that is painful or troublesome to them. The fourth chapter deals with how products are incorporating information and findability. Chapters Five and Six, Push and Pull and The Sociosemantic Web, respectively, deal with issues that you might find in an information architecture book. The last chapter, Inspired Decisions, discusses the irrationality behind our so-called "rational" decisions, how information overload makes the situation worse, and the author's theory that all the information that flows through our senses shapes how we think and act.

The book does have a great number of references to interesting research and trends in the areas of information architecture, cognitive science, usability, and related areas. In fact, the number of references is the book's main strength as there were a number of interesting papers and research efforts mentioned of which I was unaware. However, the numerous references could also be considered a weakness since it appears that Morville does much more citing than explaining.

O'Reilly categorized Ambient Findability as a Marketing/Technology & Society book. The Technology & Society part strikes me as correct but I am not so sure about Marketing. If you are looking for markers or pointers to how information may be used in the future then this is an interesting book to read. If you are looking for concrete suggestions or discussions of how to improve findability in the here and now then this book is lacking.

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review.
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