Monday, November 22, 2010

Context is King: Excerpts from posts and articles - Part I

For the paste one week or so, I have been reading up on the importance of context as opposed to content. "Context is King" is fast becoming a mantra; hence my focused reading on the topic. Then a tweet by @sumeet_moghe on the same topic today prompted me to put up excerpts of the articles and posts I have been reading here.
The tweet: It’s not about the tweets; it’s about the context. @ on
The excerpts:
We need context to understand complex issues and this can be provided by those we are connected to. The reach and depth of our connections become critical in helping us make sense of our environment and to solve problems. ~ PKM: our part of the social learning contract

Creating good content on a platform that lets users (teachers & learners) add context may be the the real killer application in education. Content developers and institutions have been so concerned with protecting their content that they don’t see where the real value lies. Letting others add more context will only increase the value of their content. ~ User Generated Context for Learning


The real value of Twitter and other social media (or, the more secure, IT-approved corporate equivalents) is the ability to target messages at specific audiences and tune your filters to the topics that interest you the most. Short fast messaging among people with common interests and objectives can be a real boon to performance and productivity. ~ Marc My Words: OMG, I'm Tweeting!

Most user generated content, is, in fact, context. The bulk of what connected consumers create isn’t content: its context – information about the value of goods and services. Context, in turn, lets connected consumers search and navigate the exploding universe of media more effectively, and massively amplifies incentives for quality.

By conflating the content and context, we mistakenly assume that what connected consumers create is inherently worthless –when, in fact, it’s by letting connected consumers contextualize content that tsunamis of new value can be unlocked (just ask Google).


Third, context isn’t truly “generated” – a term which implies something algorithmic, substitutable, mass-produced. Rather, it’s often deeply culturally specific and socially bound: often, outsiders can’t even make head or tail of what’s really deeply powerful context, because they don’t understand the signs or language connected consumers have evolved. ~ The New Economics of Consumption: User Generated Context

The tacit resides in action, most often in participation with others. As a consequence, tacit knowledge can be
distributed as a shared, socially constructed understanding that emerges from collaboration. ~ Learning in the Digital Age by John Seely Brown

Legitimate peripheral participation is . . . an analytic viewpoint on learning, a way of understanding learning. We hope to make it clear that learning through legitimate peripheral participation takes place no matter which educational form provides a context for learning, or whether there is any intentional educational form at all. ~ Jean Leave and Etienne Wenger

People generally learn words in the context of ordinary communication. This process is startlingly fast and successful. Miller and Gildea note that by listening, talking, and reading, the average 17-year-old has learned vocabulary at a rate of 5,000 words per year (13 per day) for over 16 years. By contrast, learning words from abstract definitions and sentences taken out of the context of normal use, the way vocabulary has often been taught, is slow and generally unsuccessful. People generally learn words in the context of ordinary
communication.

Teaching from dictionaries assumes that definitions and exemplary sentences are self-contained "pieces" of knowledge. But words and sentences are not islands, entire unto themselves. Language use would involve an
unremitting confrontation with ambiguity, polysemy, nuance, metaphor, and so forth were these not resolved with the extralinguistic help that the context of an utterance provides (Nunberg, 1978).

Learning from dictionaries, like any method that tries to teach abstract concepts independently of authentic situations, overlooks the way understanding is developed through continued, situated use. This development, which involves complex social negotiations, does not crystallize into a categorical definition. Because it is dependent on situations and negotiations, the meaning of a word cannot, in principle, be captured by a definition, even when the definition is supported by a couple of exemplary sentences. ~ Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning

The notion that news comes in and stories go out — text and photos come in and paper goes out — is an artifact of the means of production and distribution, of course. Now a story never begins and it never ends. But at some point in the life of a story, a journalist (working wherever) may see the idea and then can get all kinds of new input. But the story itself — in whatever medium — is merely a blip on the line, a stage in a process, for that process continues after publication.

…In this new ecology, I think newsrooms will need to be organized around topics or tags or stories because the notion of a section is as out of date as the Dewey Decimal System… Stories and topics become molecules that attract atoms: reporters, editors, witnesses, archives, commenters, and so on, all adding different elements to a greater understanding. Who brings that together? It’s not always the reporter or editor anymore. It can just as easily be the reader(s) now. ~ The New News Process

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