The Science of Context

Fifty years of research into what was previously labeled “the science of steering” has shown the importance of adequate attention to context – a systemic understanding of environment, resources, actors, belief systems, attention generators, symbols, language, etc. To adequately “steer” oneself or others through a situation demands that context be treated with respect – where respect means “to be seen again.” Just as respect for people means to treat them on the basis of a prospective repeated relationship, so too respect for context means to engage with it as if interactions may be multiple and as if the context itself could retain memory of prior encounters. The science of context provides perspectives on the role of making things simple, narratives, and reflexivity which combine to assist in whatever steering may be required – be it for a given moment or for the long term. The science of steering has the formal name of “cybernetics’ but we prefer to describe what we do as applying the science of context.

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