In this course we will encounter varied scholars, concepts, theories and arguments. Unlike in mathematics where 2+2=4 our topic and methods are not amendable to such clarity. While a textbook definition is a useful starting point, most all endeavors (be it scholarly or entrepreneurial) undertake to build and improve upon what came before. Hence, while an author might provide us with the concept we must appreciate it is made:
- in a particular disciplinary and historical context;
- towards a particular end;
- in light of other concepts;
- with its own limitations.
Asking these questions is a critical step toward truly understanding something and a big step towards making your own contribution. Hence, when presented with a concept we should ask about:
- discipline and context of application/origin
- examples, counter-examples, or screw-examples (examples which are on the boundary)
- differences from related concepts
For example, we might analyze Ilana Gershon’s notion of "second order information" in Breakup 2.0 as follows.
concept: second order information
"is not what is actually said but rather the background knowledge of the situation and expectations of communication that allows one to interpret the words" [p. 123].
context: online community
- status information that one is thriving post-breakup [p. 128].
- inappropriate reading of 2nd-order info is creepy [p. 145].
- ring-tones [p. 162] (but this is information the receiver adds?)
- emoticons? (they are actually in the message?)
- context (doesn't seem that different)
- implicit knowledge (again, not that different)
- the concept could be more clear on the origins of the 2nd-info (e.g., ring tone) and whether they can be in the message or not (e.g., emoticons)