People may or may not be aware that my work at Evergreen made one thing abundantly obvious: everything is interconnected. I’ve been living by this mantra for quite some time (indeed, since somewhere around my freshman year at Evergreen), but lately, I’ve come to realize that, while it’s certainly sufficient to recognize this, there’s an extra layer to this idea that I hadn’t quite recognized. There are two ways that I can state this, and I haven’t quite decided which one I prefer yet, since they are two distinct expressions of the same set of ideas:
Everything is interconnected, given a particular context.
Everything is interconnected; context is king.
The word “context” is something that is repeated almost ad nauseam in a lot of the work that I’ve done so far in the MSIM program. A lot of user interaction design work depends on the context in which a solution will be used. How things are categorized depends on the context of that information in relation to other facets. The context in which a question is asked can affect the results of that question. Management styles differ depending upon how managers choose to contextualize different information in their environments.
There is one major thing missing at this point as well that I’ve actually chosen not to attempt to integrate: the centrality of the user (or, less technically, of people) in information management. The reason for this is that it’s already recognized in my personal statement of my career goals (which has not been posted to this blog – it exists on my personal wiki).
So what’s the difference between these two potential statements? “given a particular context” implies restrictions or limitations on what connections can be formed, and suggests to me that those limitations may not be surmountable. On the other hand, “context is king” recognizes the original spirit of the mantra of “everything is interconnected” – that everything, somehow, connects to something else, context or not. It also recognizes that context plays a central role in our accumulation of knowledge and information.
Which one I end up choosing will depend heavily on which of these interpretations I feel is more central to my work.