Same Word, Different Context

by | Feb 6, 2022 | ICT4D, Learning |

same word

Here in Europe, if you grow plants hydroponically (in flowing water), you can’t be certified as being organic. This is because the regulations say organic certification requires growing in soil. However, if you are in the United States, you can be certified as organic. Different context, different regulations.

This is true of many regulations globally. Different contexts have different rules. No matter what area of life you consider. This can lead to frustration, but also to conversations about why. And just because I am from a different country (or context) doesn’t mean I can live by my ‘home rules’ instead of the context rules. (We tend only like to try this when our ‘home rules’ are more favourable than the new context.)

And yet, we often try to do this all the time, especially in the digital space. We choose which data protection regulation to follow to suit ourselves. Or we export our views on regulations into a new context. But also, going back to definitions of organic, each context may use the same or similar words, with different meaning. There is value in understanding the context we work in, but also the definitions of the words being used.

We may be surprised at what we find.

Photo by Maksim Tarasov

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