Somehow I came across a mention about this small book with a provocative title by Peter Morville. Go here to check it out on Amazon. After reading an excerpt on A List Apart I knew I had to buy a copy. Remember that I said that I “somehow” came across a mention of the book. So Mr. Morville immediately calls my bluff in the book’s preface. Opening sentences: How did you get here? How did you find this book? What were you looking for? And so on. He asks because the odds of actually finding his book are vanishingly small. Estimates place the worldwide stock of books at between 75- and 150-million titles; plus there are millions of blogs, billions of web pages, countless radio and TV shows, RSS feeds, podcasts, and the beat goes on. As Morville points out, given this vast array of information competing for my attention I would be more likely to win a lottery than find his book. And yet, without actually being able to accurately answer his questions about how I found his book and what I was looking for when I found it (as best as I can remember, I was bored so I started surfing, and somehow found a blog that mentioned the book, which led me to A List Apart, which motivated me to go to Amazon, which prompted a decision to buy).
Now that I have dug more deeply into the book, I realize that the mindless ease with which I moved from becoming aware of an interesting concept, to holding a book in my hands that helps me learn more about it is really a small example of ambient findability.
Now the plot thickens. Today I decide to check out the author’s website. Here I browse some of his earlier articles, such as one he wrote on Ambient Findability in 2002. As I skim the article I notice a reference to The Diamond Age. This as it turns out is a sci fi book published in 1989 by Neal Stephenson. But was is really amazing (to me at least) is that literally minutes before seeing it mentioned in Morville’s article, I saw the book mentioned in my daily Reuters Technology Report email. This time it was in a story about an enabling technology for Ambient Findability: electronic paper. In Stephenson’s book, a young girl carries a book that can speak to her and continually change the contents of its pages. Over a decade after his book was published, Phillips of Holland demonstrated that what was once science fiction is about to become the real deal.
Are you ready for Ambient Findability? Remember, it is a two way deal. You get to find what you want, when you want it, where ever you are. And conversely, you and everything about you are equally easily findable by anyone else.