Friday, April 02, 2010

Search Patterns: Design for Discovery

Peter Morville's book Ambient Findability is one of the best books on search in its personal and social context, and probably my favourite non-technical O'Reilly book. Once you have read Ambient Findability this is a good follow-up.

Search is becoming a universal solvent in software and media - it has transformed publishing and advertising and is poised to transform business intelligence, enterprise content management, data integration ... and when combined with augmented realities, geolocation and social networks will change how we live with each other. It is a big topic.

There are many things to like about this book: it is visually strong and makes good use of illustrations to bring abstract concepts to life; it covers the basics well; it reinforces the importance of context in search and computing generally (we have to think of context as a first-order object); it expands ones conception or search, search interfaces and the search experience.

I do have a couple of caveats - I agree that this is patterns lite, so lite that I question whether these deserve the name patterns. It does not meet the standards for clear thinking and presentation set in the Gang of Four book. This is not a problem unique to this book, over the past few years there have been many books that play loose with the pattern meme.

I would also have appreciated a deeper dive on the emerging role of semantics in search. The best example of this is the role that Good Relations is playing is searching and finding products on eCommerce sites. I suspect that open and evolving ontologies like Good Relations will transform search over the next decade.

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