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Ambient Findability

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  • p_morville
    Ambient Findability (August 28, 2002) http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000008.php ... I have never been an early adopter of technology. I m
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2002
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      Ambient Findability (August 28, 2002)
      http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000008.php

      ---

      I have never been an early adopter of technology. I'm more of a
      skeptical fast-following frugalist. So it's not surprising that I
      only recently entered the promised land of the wireless web.

      Equipped with a Dell Latitude C400, a Minolta Dimage X, and a
      Motorola V60c, I can finally sit in my backyard, write an article,
      check the polar bear's sales rank once a minute, email pictures of
      my feet to friends, order pizza, and utilize pre-attentive
      processing to make sure our three year old is looking after our baby
      responsibly.

      Having achieved this network nirvana, the question is inevitable:
      what's next? For an information architect with library roots, the
      answer is obvious: ambient findability.

      I want to be able to find anything, anywhere, anytime.

      What's surprising is how close we are to making this impossibly
      strange dream a reality. Ambient interfaces, sensors and small tech
      are about to intertwingle the physical and virtual worlds in
      shocking ways that will make history of the Diamond Age.
      Ambient Interfaces

      At this year's Advance for Design in Las Vegas, David Rose brought
      some cool toys to his show-and-sell session. David's company,
      Ambient Devices, embeds information representation into everyday
      objects, enabling lights, pens, watches, walls and wearables to tell
      you when you've got email, when it's going to rain, when to take
      your meds, how your stocks are doing, and how long you'll be stuck
      in traffic today. While I'm not convinced we're about to undergo
      a "paradigm shift to glance-ability," I do want an Ambient Orb and a
      Talking Table.

      Jeffrey Huang of Harvard University then told us about the
      Swisshouse , a "radically new kind of consulate located both in
      Boston and on the Internet." This prototype for convergent
      architecture creates social spaces that seamlessly combine the
      physical and the virtual, transforming places into portals and
      putting the web on the wall.

      Sensors and Small Tech

      According to the experts, advances in MEMS and nanotechnology will
      soon kick small tech into the big time. While smart dust and
      personal fabricators are more exotic, sensors will drive change
      faster and further in the near future.

      In a Ten Year Forecast , Paul Saffo explains that we're about to add
      eyes, ears and all sorts of other sensory organs to our devices and
      networks. Sensors and small tech already make it possible to access
      real-time traffic reports on the Web and to find your kids using a
      GPS Personal Locator.

      Before long we'll have sticky sensors and radiofrequency (RF) tags
      the size of a postage stamp. You'll be able to stick them to the
      back of your remote control, the inside of your purse and the bottom
      of your spouse's shoe. Yes, our ability to track the location of
      everything all the time will raise some privacy concerns, but
      privacy is history anyway.

      Designing for Ambient Findability

      So how will the convergence of ambient interfaces, sensors and small
      tech change the work of information architecture and design?

      In short, it won't.

      Consider the following bold predictions:

      * Keyword Searching Reigns Supreme. Ten years from now, users
      will still enter one or two keywords into a search query box, and
      they'll still be frustrated by the results. Hopefully we'll have
      some algorithmic advances that take us beyond Google, but ultimately
      we won't escape the ambiguity of language.

      * Metadata Goes Mainstream. We're going to create an explosion
      of metadata. In order to identify all of the people and objects we
      want to be able to find, we'll need to tag them with metadata. This
      will usher in the era of personal information architecture that
      Jakob Nielsen predicts in our book's foreword.

      Your Predictions

      Okay, so you're disappointed by my predictions. Well, what did you
      expect from a skeptical fast-following frugalist who's multi-tasking
      in his backyard? Please, tell me your predictions.
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