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Category Archives: education

Peter Morville wrote one of the best introductions to digital IA, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. His most recent book, Ambient Findability, is a pleasant and entertaining jaunt through specific aspects of IA such as wayfinding, faceted browsing, semantics, metadata, and information hierarchies. What I particularly like is that Morville weaves in contributions from others in the field such as Clay Shirky and Dave Wienburg. This collaborative approach stands in stark contrast to Steve Johnson’s book Everything Bad is Good for You, which tackled the question of popular culture’s effects on educational development and literacy while completely¬† ignoring Neil Postman’s critical contributions to the topic. I was appalled at Johnson’s ignorance, and wondered how his editor ever let him publish a book with such shoddy scholarship.

Although Ambient Findability lacks a certain depth of original thought, Morville’s willingness to do his homework in regards to the other movers and shakers in his field goes far towards redeeming the book in my eyes.

My stamp of approval: A-

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I can’t wait to tell you about this one.

Chevalier (Girl with the Pearl Earring), tackles a fascinating moment in natural history: the late 19nth century, when archeologists and historians were just beginning to probe evolution and natural selection.

At this time in history, the northwest coast of England revealed an astounding number of dinosaur skeletons, some perfectly preserved in their entirety. The book tells the story of the local fossil hunters, and one particularly talented young woman, Mary Anning. Virtually unschooled, Anning, nevertheless, had a knack for finding the remains of creatures never before seen by the Academy. This book is the story of her discoveries and of her struggle to be recognized by Britains’ academic elite, aided by an unusual advocate and friend.

The writing in the book is flawless: rich, poignant, and every word counts. Rarely do I regret a book coming to its end, this was one.

My take: oh yeah, A ++

Its a good quick read! You can skim: he should’ve had a better editor. Its really about marketing – in lay terms – and what motivates people in their buying decisions, and how this knowledge is used to manipulate buyer behavior. It also covers social behavior and the underlying factors in the choices we make: and they’re not what you’d think.

He’s had an amazing life: suffered 3rd degree burns on 70% of his body when fifteen. He’s spent the past 30 years slowly reconstructing and healing, mainly through force of will and the simple desire to survive.

I say: A – (the minus for wordiness)

I’m taking advantage of quiet, uninterrupted time to read OUE and am enjoying the chapter by Chris Meckie. He talked about a variant of Open Source Software (OSS), called Community Source Software(CSS).

In the CSS model, universities band together and work cooperatively towards building a product (Sakai is a good example of this). With strict reporting structures and formalized commitments of staff and resources on the part of member institutions, this model is a welcome breath of fresh air. In our age where capitalism is in its apparent end-game, and continues poisoning the world with toxic fruits and vegetables born of unbridled greed and robs average citizens of their life savings through rogue banking practices, it seems that initiatives like CSS and related cooperative endeavors in other domains signal a post-capitalist ray of hope for the introduction of more evolved methods of creating value and managing commerce.

I can’t grade this book! (It just wouldn’t be right, Vijay Kumar is my boss, its a conflict of interest) but there is awesome content here!