There’s a cool, funny piece in the New Yorker this week about wine and how we’re affected so much by its context. We’ve been trained to think (or at least say we think) that a given wine is better than another given wine because of certain factors (cost, locale, etc.)
One wine critic put it this way:
“Take art criticism, restaurant reviews, smart phone or car criticism,” he told me. “In none of those fields do you ask someone to critique a product blind. It’s just not done, and it would be crazy. A reviewer tells you about the context, the arc of an artist’s or a chef’s career, how they are doing now relative to before. How this version of the iPhone compares to the others.”
This goes perfectly with the story about the two people who sold a bunch of items online. One just posted photos and the stuff and one hired people to write these long, elaborate stories about where their stuff came from.
Guess which one made more money?
Context matters to people because they want to feel good and important and like what they are doing is meaningful beyond the act of whatever it is.