Like the slightly ‘self-development’ (we are what we consume) tone to the title of this post which is actually a tagline out of a book promo mail I just got this morning. A book advertorial yes and I considered not doing anything above and beyond checking it out at O’Reilly’s bookstore. But reading the promo text for “Ambient Findability” (great title of the new book by Peter Morville) it started to press a few of my ‘future roadmap’ buttons so I thought I would share some of them with you (and no I am not sponsored by O’Reilly, yet;-). Can you judge a book by its promotional blurb? I quote a para from the first chapter (a link to the online version below) that actually echoes my previous post! Synchronicity again…

Our children are inheriting a media landscape that’s breathtaking and bewildering. Books, magazines, newspapers, billboards, telephones, televisions, videotapes, video games, email messages, text messages, instant messages, web sites, weblogs, wikis, and the list goes on. It’s exciting to have all these communication tools and information sources at our disposal, but the complexity of the environment demands new kinds of literacy. Gone are the days when we can look up the “right answer” in the family encyclopedia. Nowadays there are many answers in many places. We can find them in Microsoft Encarta or in the Wikipedia. We can find them via Google. There is so much to find, but we must first know how to search and who to trust. In the information age, transmedia information literacy is a core life skill.

And here is some of the promotional blurb that enticed me in the first place!

“Findability is at the center of a quiet revolution that’s changing who we trust, how we work, where we go, and what we want. And yet nobody’s talking about it because they don’t want to see the big picture,” says Morville. “This book is my attempt to connect the dots and provoke discussion about how the Internet and ubiquitous computing are transforming business, education, and culture.”

Love the broad scope of this and that ‘ambient’ agent overtone. One can imagine agents being these very subtle representations of you (a miniGoogle of you) crawling around finding stuff in the background and reporting back. Always interested to see how this broad speculative area is manifested in any book and if it really is big ‘future’ picture and not another commentary on the present day social networking web (blog, wiki, vlog, im etc) we are all too familiar with. Here is the first chapter online. But the thing that really got me interested as it is firmly in the personalize media space –

we’ve begun to create new interfaces for exporting digital networked information while simultaneously importing vast amounts of data about the physical world into these networks,” explains Morville. “GPS, RFID, sensors, wearables, implants, ingestibles, and other emerging technologies are enabling an Internet of objects we can barely imagine. We’re headed towards ambient findability, a world in which we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime. “However, there are no revolutionary search technologies on the horizon,” he adds. “As the search space grows exponentially, so will the findability challenge.”

So very true. As in many of my previous posts I talk about the relevance of mass niche (that endless well of specialist content – think I will stop referring to it as the long tail now!) and how we need effective ways to get to it. Collaborative filtering and reccomender systems have a long way to go to be really mainstream. Perhaps this book answers a few of those questions, I will be very surprised if it does! It goes on to sell itself:

“Those businesses that successfully lower search costs and drive their customers further down the tip of the Long Tail will reap tremendous rewards. In other words, findability will be key to competitive advantage in the coming years.”

This echoes some of the points I made about the competition in data layering media (personalize media!) in my post a few days ago on video personalization.

The proof of personalization is of course actually demonstrated in the way I got this info. I suspect I am profiled or tagged somewhere in the O’Reilly mailout system – it just came and found me “foundability” perhaps. OK crude mail targeting – but project forward 10 years what other things we be hurtling my way? Will leave the final words to the ad…now wheres my credit card or how about a review copy O’Reilly, where’s my phone?

“The shift from push to pull has huge implications for advertising and marketing. But that’s just the half of it. At the bleeding edge of this revolution we see the scales tipping away from mass media towards the media of the masses. But blogs and Wikipedia are just the beginning. This revolution will transform business, politics, and education.” “Ambient Findability” is an amazing boundary spanner with insights that may forever change how you think, where you go, what you find, and who you become.

Reviews of the book can be found here

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005