KMWorld 2008 Thursday Keynote – Search 3.0: Knowledge Management and Discovery

Peter Morville, Semantic Studios

Peter’s blog:¬†

Information that’s hard to find will remain information that’s hardly found.

Peter will talk about how search must fit into the larger architecture.

Peter is a librarian (wonderful!!) who fell in love with the Internet in the early 1990’s. As a consultant he works with a wide variety of clients including corporations, .

What is Information Architecture?

  • The structural design of shareed information environments.
  • The combination of organization, labeling, search and navigation systems in web sites and intranets.
  • The art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability.

It’s important to provide many paths to the same information to accommodate a variety of target audiences.

Information architecture is a part of usability and user experience, and part of knowledge management.

  • We need to worry about usability, but we need to also strive for desireability and creating pleasurable user experiences.
  • The site and the information within it need to be findable, perhaps despite the web site it’s part of.
  • Must think about mobile devices and people with disabilities.
  • Credibility is crucial.
  • The site must be valuable in that it helps to fulfill business goals.

Location matters – improve your search engine rankings. People trust the higher rankings (sometimes wrongly). Today, findability and credibility are closely related.

There is an important relationship between search and knowledge management:

Many people depend on Wikipedia because those pages are found frequently by people searching for information. This is important; Wikipedia is valuable becasue the contributors know that their contributions will be viewed by many people.

Enterprise Findability = IA + KM + Search

  • In portal space, information architecture is top-down (controlled vocabulary)
  • In collaboration space, IA is emergent – need to observe, shepherd and harness the learning to make things navigable and searchable
  • Enterprise search needs to bridge across all systems (portals and more)


  • The quality of being locatable or navigable
  • the degree to which an object is easy to discover or locate
  • the degree to which a sstem or environment supports wayfinding, navigation and retrieval


  • Surrounding, encircling, enveloping

The ability to find anyone or anything from anywhere at anytime (this can be scary from a privacy point of view)

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” – Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate Economist

The Internet of objects  Рexamples include Google Earth, and tagging objects that are then findable through a wireless location appliance. Soon, will we be able to Google where we left our keys?

“The Transparent Society” by David Brin, who states that the rich can already track our every move – do we want that to be reciprocated? Do we want to be able to track the moves of others?

But with the firehose-aimed-at-a-teacup amount of information is causing greater challenges of findability.

The Revenge of the Librarians – metadata has become sexy. This is NOT your mother’s taxonomy – we have the folksonomies of Flickr and everyone is tagging like mad.

What we need to do is find the happy medium, and bring together the librarians with the average person.

“Search has become the new interface of commerce” – John Batelle

Search is one of the most important ways we learn, so it’s crucial to a robust knowledge management system. Search is a complex, adaptive system.

For examples of different kinds of search results, see Peter’s search pattern collection on Flickr:

Search is a wicked problem:

  • No definitieve formulation
  • Considerable uncertainty, complex interdependencies

This presentation can be found here.