Think about it. After e-mail (or perhaps before), search is one of our most important tools for information retrieval.
Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability, and pioneer in the field of information architecture, highlights best practices and technologies that he thinks will transform enterprise social search into a vital tool for collaboration, knowledge management, and discovery. He's talking about connecting knowledge management and discovery - Search 3.0.
To do search well, we need the ability to:
- have a willingness to dive down into the details of search
- need ability to step back and see how search fits in the broader context and fits in the big picture.
What is information architecture?
- The structural design of shared information environments
- The combination of organization, labeling, search , and navigation systems in web sites and intranets.
It's important to provide multiple paths to the same information - consider your user - rather than the single end-all taxonomy that leads with one path.
Gave example of a university web site with half a dozen ways to find information.
Alternatives to the concept of usability - there's a clearer way to think about this
useful - is it useful?
desirable - do people want to be there?
findable - can our users find our web site, can they find their way around the site, can the find our products & services despite our web site. (Increasingly important in context of Google and Intranets). Less obvious is the observation that people tend to trust higher search page listings more, regardless of actual content.
accessible - is it accessible to people with disabilities and with mobile devices?
credible - do people trust our information? Visual design and architecture have a big impact on credibility
usable - how do/can they use it?
and valuable - remember that we need to add value to the user.
The role of WikiPedia in Search and the symbiotic relationship with Google.
Folks Google to get to WikiPedia pages.
Folks edit WikiPedia pages to rank high and stay current in Google searches.
Example of cancer.gov site information (re)design.
How do people get to the site in the first place? And, where do they end up?
It's not there mission to create a great web site. It's their mission to make their content findable and accessible - it's part of their responsibility.
Enterprise Findability = IA + KM + SEARCH
In portal space, IA is top-down.
In collaboration space, IA is more emergent
Enterprise search can serve as a bridge across silos, internal sites, external sites, etc.
The quality of being locatable or navigable.
The degree to wish an object is easy to discover or locate.
The degree to which a system or environment supports wayfinding, navigation, and retrieval.
Seeing a convergence between findability and wayfinding - a merging of the virtual and physical processes.
"A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." - Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate Economist
"We are 30 years away from the internet of objects, but it's happening today." For example, CISCO sells a wireless appliance for location tracking of high-value objects. e.g. Hospitals spend an amazing amount of staff time searching for objects. CISCO's solution makes these objects findable. What do you need to find?
Mentioned David Brin's book, "The Transparent Society."
"In a world of bigger and bigger digital haystacks, how do we create bigger needles?"
Information Architecture and Findability are key.
Revenge of the librarians - "metadata has become sexy" but "It's not your mother's metadata" either.
What does he think about findability?
Search and browse will continue to work hand in hand. The evolving nature of search. (Marcia Bates: Berrypicking: Evolving Search 1989) Over the course of a search, the query can evolve. It's also one of the most important ways we learn. We need to recognize that search is a complex adaptive system.
So how do we push forward with search?
(See his Flickr site to see his library of search pattern diagrams)
Search Behavior Patterns
- Search & Browse & Ask
- Pearl Grow
- Best bets (human maintained shortcuts)
- Federated search (because user's don't know where to look, what to search. Think of a library.)
- Faceted navigation
- Auto suggest (both for queries and results)
- Social search
- Media Search
- Spime Search
- Social Search - taps into everyone's willingness to share information
Lesson: when you add "new and improved" features to your site, make sure you users understand what they can do; get their attention.
Speed is important! It removes barriers to iteration
Look at Yahoo India's pages to see an example of how they organize search results.
To wrap up: Search is a wicked problem.:
He offers many reasons why. Explains that the value and opportunity is in our sharing what we know and learn as this industry evolves.
Note: I have Peter's books and highly recommend them. Easy to understand. Rich in knowledge. Practical. Compelling.