Section 7.8. Ambient Findability

7.8. Ambient Findability

The first person to discover that light contains color was a man named Isaac who grew up on a farm in England roughly 350 years ago. By refracting sunlight with a small triangular prism he bought at Stourbridge Fair, Isaac proved that white light is not homogenous, as natural philosophers since Aristotle had believed, but holds within it the full spectrum of the rainbow. This revolutionary thinker later became Sir Isaac Newton, president of the Royal Society, father of calculus and universal gravitation, and author of Principia (Figure 7-11), by common consent the greatest scientific book ever written.

Figure 7-11. Newton's Principia (Source: Wikipedia. Photograph by Andrew Dunn. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License)

But it was Newton's early work on colour and the reflecting telescope that enlightens us today, for in his legacy, we learn that now and then we must look away to see. Memory and vision are linked in a dance of senses to an ambient rhythm, and in a very real sense, we all groove to the beat of ambient music, described by the Wikipedia as:

A loosely defined musical genre that incorporates elements of a number of different stylesincluding jazz, electronic music, new age, rock and roll, modern classical music, reggae, traditional, world and even noise. It is chiefly identifiable as having an overarching atmospheric context....The term was first coined by Brian refer to music that would envelop the listener without drawing attention to itself....Often listeners will forget they are listening to ambient music, which is one of the biggest attractions.[*]

[*] "Ambient Music" in the Wikipedia,

In this text, we've studied the Web through the prism of findability, and gained insight into the future of ubicomp, the evolution of belief, and the enveloping nature of culture. Our amazing journey to ambient findability is well underway. The Web has changed how we live, when we work, where we go, and what we believe. And we ain't seen nothing yet. We can glimpse what lies ahead in the eyes of a child through the lens of a Treo. A brilliant intertwingling of atoms, bits, push, pull, social, semantic, mind, and body, where what we find changes who we become. As Jorges Luis Borges promised us, in the "Garden of Forking Paths," the book and the labyrinth are one and the same. Safe travels.


    About the Author


About the Author

Peter Morville is widely recognized as a founding father of the emerging field of information architecture, and he serves as a passionate advocate for the critical role that findability plays in defining the user experience. Peter is coauthor (with Louis Rosenfeld) of the best-selling book on the subject, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, named "Best Internet Book of 1998" by Amazon and "The Most Useful Book on Web Design on the Market" by usability guru Jakob Nielsen. Peter's work and ideas have been featured in numerous publications, including Business Week, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and Fortune.


Our look is the result of reader comments, our own experimentation, and feedback from distribution channels. Distinctive covers complement our distinctive approach to technical topics, breathing personality and life into potentially dry subjects.

The animal on the cover of Ambient Findability is a Verreaux's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi). A rare lemur found only in Madagascar, the sifaka spends most of its time in trees, feeding on fruit, flowers, wood, bark, and leaves.

Two unusual traits distinguish sifakas from other lemurs. First, when threatened, a sifaka lets out a loud alarm call that sounds like shi-fakthis odd barking sound is where the animal gets its name. Second, the sifaka is known for its famous dance. Because the trees in the sifaka's habitat are spread out, it is sometimes forced to move across the ground from tree to tree. During these brief earthbound trips, the sifaka bipedally hops sideways and wildly waves its arms in the air. Extremely vulnerable on the ground, sifakas use this "dancing" to ward off predators.

Adam Witwer was the production editor and Linley Dolby was the copyeditor for Ambient Findability. Ann Atalla proofread the text. Colleen Gorman and Claire Cloutier provided quality control. Johnna VanHoose Dinse wrote the index.

Karen Montgomery designed the cover of this book, based on a series design by Edie Freedman, and produced the cover layout with Adobe InDesign CS using Adobe's ITC Garamond font. The cover image is from Cassell's Natural History.

David Futato designed the interior layout. This book was converted by Keith Fahlgren to FrameMaker 5.5.6 with a format conversion tool created by Erik Ray, Jason McIntosh, Neil Walls, and Mike Sierra that uses Perl and XML technologies. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed. The illustrations that appear in the book were produced by Robert Romano, Jessamyn Read, and Lesley Borash using Macromedia FreeHand MX and Adobe Photoshop CS. The tip and warning icons were drawn by Christopher Bing. This colophon was written by Adam Witwer.