The Power of Context

Alan Kay is one of the thinkers from the early days of Xerox PARC. If you’re a user of modern tech, things like the graphical user interface on computers and the mouse where first conceived of there.

Alan has a concept he talks about called the Power of Context:

Looking back on these experiences, I’m struck that my lifelong processes of loving ideas and reacting to them didn’t bear really interesting fruit until I encountered “The ARPA Dream” in grad school at the University of Utah. A fish on land still waves its fins, but the results are qualitatively different when the fish is put in its most suitable watery environment. This is what I call “The power of the context” or “Point of view is worth 80 IQ points” …

If you want to read first-hand from him, this letter from him is wonderful:

As an individual, we each need to choose our context the best we can. That’s how to unlock the potential inside of us. You have to find the right place for you at the right time.

For me, it was deciding in 2012 to hang out at Geekdom and Body Armor. Those new contexts changed my professional and personal life. respectively.

Michael Girdley