Context is King

Written by Martin Lucas

Computer technology has changed knowledge into information, this information will be…

…owned by the corporation

…stored in vast databases

Information will be sold and knowledge will be left alone as people will treat information as knowledge. This will create a situation where everyone has all the information you could ever need but we will not access and learn it like we do with knowledge.

This information is judged by its commercial value not by its truth.

What you just read is a modernised summary of the Philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard predictions of what a computer connected world would become, he predicted this in 1979. Like all celebrated Philosophers he was predicting the future change of behaviours of humanity.

It’s a wonderful empirical debate and Lyotard has hit the mark so hard it is spooky. Even writing that previous sentence will cause many people to resist it being true. They will cry, ‘I have knowledge, I am clever, that is not me!’ That is the problem with philosophy in today’s world: we have been sucker-punched by the flow of information into believing we are smarter, more clever and have evolved in just TWO (maybe 1.5) generations to have bigger, faster, smarter brains than at any other time in history. Franky, it’s nonsense, we have a generation that we have bestowed with lower social interaction skills in a way that is almost hard to believe but impossible to hide from.

Prove it

When I started working, email was the key go-to method for how we communicated and secondary was the spoken word. Today, for that generation and heck even for all of us, email is merely one medium amongst many. The tool itself is the mobile phone and the channels used are numerous: Whatsapp, Messenger, Snapchat, email, Slack and onwards. The least common thing is a phone call, actual talking — it’s all inside the phone and that is the mindset we are dealing with, communicating in the machine, not in real life human-to-human interactions. A key human skill is reading expressions, understanding feelings and speaking in different tones — what if you didn’t know how to anymore?

Cause and Effect 

There is always a cause and effect to major generational behaviour change and in this case it is the first generation to grow up 100% with smart technology. Of course there is nothing but hindsight and no one could fully predict what it would change about how a whole generation thinks. And it is literally thinking in this case. All skills, whether they are social, numerical, linguistic, feelings or any combination thereof, we learn to think about them (or not) and that becomes our thinking pattern, which drives how you think, feel and act. That’s the brain’s job, the inputs create the outputs.

It’s rare to have such a shift in behaviours for an entire generation but it’s there. Then, when we throw in Lyotard’s prediction you have a shift in thinking for the young people AND you have a shift in how we take onboard, seek and absorb information. It’s not that we don’t learn, it’s not that we can’t be dedicated, it’s that we don’t realise the effort needed to truly become a master of a subject. Let’s be honest, I’m basically saying that we believe because everything we need to know is just a search or media website away that we can’t get it anytime we want.

Literally anytime — think about that. If you think it’s readily available, then over time you will be less and less curious and more and more lazy. You become ungrateful to said knowledge and even worse you are not consciously aware of that shift. Knowledge becomes less valuable and what you are left with is Information, a key difference.

Context is King

They said Content is King, didn’t they?

Everyone needs a blog, it’s vital, they said that too?

We all did it, all of us, every Tom, Dick and Harry started spewing out content, a blog, a product run down, a manual, an ebook….

…in the late 90’s journalists and experts rose and rose as bloggers

…in the late 00’s everyone has a blog and content is churning and burning

…in 2017 we are becoming aware of moor and more fake news

We are at a point of crisis, readership is down, gif’s and quotes rule simply because our perception of free time is less and less. We take in information in short bursts and our ability as a collective had become harder and harder to judge information vs knowledge, truth vs fiction and onwards is tough.

My theory that I’m rolling with multiple clients is that context will over take content as the key ingredient. By context in this case I mean the quality of your voice, what you say, how you say it and this for me is why storytelling will rise and rise as a technique vs bland product manual mindset content will die. It’s a new era, with many challenges and many opportunities.