24:3 (2009:09) 24th Conference: Vision Session: Peter Morville

September 3, 2009 at 11:55 am | Posted in Conference Reports, Vision Sessions | Leave a comment

VISION SESSION

Ambient Findability: Libraries, Serials, and the Internet of Things
Peter Morville, Semantic Studios
Reported by Kelly Smith

Peter Morville, president of Semantic Studios, gave the opening address of the conference.  His presentation slides can be viewed at: http://semanticstudios.com/nasig.pdf.  He began his presentation by offering a definition, actually several definitions, of information architecture taken from his book, co-authored with Louis Rosenfeld, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, O’Reilly Media, Inc., 3rd edition, 2009.

200909morville

Peter Morville

Information architecture is:

  • The structural design of shared information environments.
  • The combination of organization, labeling, search, and navigation systems in websites and intranets.
  • The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability.
  • An emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.

Morville stressed that for librarians, there is a responsibility to educate clients about what librarians do.  To achieve this, he suggested four goals to keep in mind when designing our library websites:

  • Offer multiple ways to find the same information.
  • Do everything you can to “bubble up” information to the surface.
  • Design with purpose and audience in mind.
  • Strive for the “user experience honeycomb.”

200909honeycomb

He also suggested three questions to ask ourselves:

  • Can our users find our website?
  • Can our users find information in our website?
  • Can our users find information despite our website?

Our ultimate goal in the future is “ambient findability,” or, “the ability to find anyone or anything from anywhere at any time.”  According to Morville, “perfect findability is not attainable” given the massive amounts of information online, but librarians need to “create bigger needles” by finding ways to leverage our metadata and by reducing out-dated content.

Searching will still be the key in the future, but librarians need to stop trying to get people to do Boolean searching and focus on simpler ways to do complex searches.  One example of this is “pearl growing”: finding a relevant result and using its metadata to find related results.  Other examples include “faceted navigation,“ “best bets,” “auto-suggest,” and contextual search.  Librarians also need to improve metasearch capabilities; incorporate social tagging in the metadata; and offer more tools for finding music, images, video, and “other non-text formats.”

Sprinkled throughout Morville’s presentation were suggested readings.  These included:

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