Formerly SpringBlog

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Findabilty and Wayfinding

Morville defines findability in three ways, first he says it is the “quality of being locatable or navigable”, next he says it is the “degree to which a particular object is easy to discover or locate”, lastly he defines findability as the “degree to which a system or environment supports navigations and retrieval.” Morville describes ambient as “completely enveloping.” Therefore “ambient findability” can be defined as completely locatable or discoverable.

Why is ambient findability important? I think for research purposes this idea of findability is crucial. “Ambient findability describes a fast emerging world where we can find anyone or anything from anywhere at a time,” says Morville. At first I felt uncomfortable about being able to be found so easily, but then I took into consideration all of the benefits of findability. If I lose my phone or if someone steals my car, my piece of property can be located thanks to this concept of ambient findability. Also, another more common association with being found is locating a missing person by locating the signal from the person’s cell phone.

Another aspect of this concept I found interesting was how it relates to digital literacy. Online thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other sites people can be found by only typing a name and pressing the enter key. I do not mind being found, because I am not trying to hide. I typed my name into Google and immediately found ten different ways to find me or read about me. Not only can people be found, but informative resources are becoming easier to locate. Navigating information on the internet can be difficult, often times I have given up on what I was searching because of the overflow of inadequate materials. I’m glad that companies see the problem and are trying to compensate for how information is listed when it is searched.

Have you ever experienced the same kind of problems when searching the web? Do you think there should be a limit to findability? Have you ever Googled your name, if you haven’t I recommend you see what you find. Ask yourself this, how findable am I?

“Because of poor wayfinding design, people die”

This quote from Morville’s book caught me off-guard. I had never thought about how street design or street signs affected how people or places are found. I know it seems like common knowledge, but for some reason I had never actually sat down and thought about how someone’s life could depend on wayfinding. I have poor eyesight, so when I drive I have to wear glasses. Even with my glasses on it is difficult for me to read street signs. I miss exits and turns, but I never realized how significant the problem was until reading Ambient Findability. Even when I walk around campus or to a friend’s house, I have difficulty seeing house numbers.

So my question is, if people are working on making digital literacy and information more locatable, are people working on making roads and street signs more navigable? Has anybody else noticed a problem when driving or looking for a certain address?


  1. I must be hiding. I just Googled myself, and after looking through the first six pages of results, I still can’t find the right person. Am I a dancer? A singer? A doctor? No. I’m none of the above. I’m a student. A freelancer. A mom. A wife. A volunteer. A handbell choir director. The list could go on. But just searching for my name doesn’t take me to the right person.

    So I thought I’d try to narrow my search. I tried adding “director” to my name. Again, I couldn’t find myself in the first ten pages of search results. Hmm. So then I tried adding “handbell director.” Finally! I found myself!

    So, I wonder, what makes me so hard to find? Is it because I haven’t put my information out there to be found? I don’t have a Facebook page. I don’t use Twitter. LinkedIn? Nope. I like my privacy, so I’ve tried to keep my personal life off the Web. The information that I did find in my final search was put there by others (my church and a nonprofit organization).

    They made me findable. It was a difficult search, but it was successful. It makes me wonder, as much as I want my private life kept private, how long will I be able to hide?

  2. Though I did the leadership on findability, I never actually took the time to Google myself until now. It caught me off guard because even though I have privacy settings on my Facebook and Twitter, my videos, name, and things I thought were unsearchable were right there for the whole world to see.

    Findability can be scary at times because you never know who is searching for you, whether it is a potential employer or someone you have had a disagreement with. Either way, I just realized privacy settings need to be more effective when it comes to 'being Googled' because I was on multiple search pages that I did not want to be on.

  3. I felt the same way. I didn't realize how often my name would appear and it actually be me. Though there were a lot of options for the show Glee because of the characters Brittany and Finn. I didn't realize people could be found even with the private settings activated.