Reviewed by John Wetherbie, January 2006
(3 of 10)
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.
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.
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.