Four polar bears and two purple martins

by | Oct 26, 2015 | Information Management, Intranets, Reviews, Search

As a search consultant I put great stress on the need to have informative titles. The title of this blog post is informative but the link is visual rather contextual. In 1998 I was starting to become very interested in intranets, co-authoring a report for TFPL on intranet management. I could see there were possibilities as a consultant in this area but at the time I had very little knowledge of information architecture despite (or perhaps because of) a career in information science. In 1999 I attended the first Intranets conference in San Francisco, met up with Lou Rosenfeld and discovered ‘Information Architecture for the World Wide Web’, the book that he had co-authored with Peter Morville in 1998. The book was a revelation, as it brought together information science, librarianship and web design, producing a tool kit for intranet managers and would be intranet consultants,

The book was immensely successful and in 2002 a second edition was published, followed by a third edition in 2006. Somehow the third edition did not quite work for me but it was still 500 pages of invaluable insight and advice. Peter Morville had by now moved into the findability sector and Lou Rosenfeld had started up Rosenfeld Media. Now we have a fourth edition, with Jorge Arango added to the writing team, with the subtitle transformed to ‘for the web and beyond’. Although the core principles remain the same the book has been tightened up (50 less pages) and yet remains immensely readable. The writing style is also consistent throughout the book, which is no mean feat with three authors. I’ll be reviewing the book in the next week or so.

As an author of an O’Reilly book you do not get to choose the colophon on the cover. The IA4WWW has been known as the ‘polar bear book’ since it was first published. Someone in the O’Reilly art department had a nice sense of humour with my book on enterprise search, as the picture is of a purple martin. The second edition is has just been published, having grown from 160 to 280 pages. Because of a change in O’Reilly house style the bird points to the right on the first edition and to the left on the second edition. The strap line, Enhancing Business Performance’ remains the same.

The challenge in writing a book is not what to include but what to leave out. As chair of the Enterprise Search Europe conference last week I gave up trying to maintain a list of items mentioned  by presenters that I should have included but didn’t. Luckily there is an Errata section on the O’Reilly website and I will be launching a new enterprise search website in the next couple of weeks. All I can do now is wait for the reviews and the emails.

The second edition of Enterprise Search is my seventh book. Will there be an eighth? You’ll have to come to the IntraTeam Event in Copenhagen in March 2016 to find out.

Martin White