I happened to see the second of the Narnia movies, Prince Caspian, recently. In it there is a scene in which the younger Pevensie brother, Edward, appears before the enemy as a messenger and is addressed as “Prince.” “King,” he replies, “It’s King Edward. Peter is the High King.” In response to the perplexed looks of his audience he continues, “I know, it’s a bit confusing.”
I feel a similar sort of confusion when I hear that “Context is king.” Wasn’t content recently king? And then its cousin, user-generated content? And whatever happened to technology, banished from the realm some time ago when we decided that it’s “really not what matters.” Perhaps there will be a coup soon.
Mostly I just chaff at generalizations and absolutes, and “Context is king” is packed with both. In reality, content, context, and technology must blend together seamlessly for a viable Web community to emerge. Hierarchy is probably not the best model to apply when thinking about them. Nonetheless, I think there is some very good food for thought in the slide show below (click through if you do not see it).
In particular, I agree with the imperative on slide 19, “Design as lightweight as possible and for modularity to quickly adapt to emergent use patterns,” and then on slide 20 (quoted out of context here;-), “Don’t assume you know better.” I always caution clients about trying to pre-engineer approaches to their learning products and communities before the users have even been involved.
I welcome your thoughts.
Hedgehog & Fox
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