Recently I met my daughter at the bus stop after school and walked her home. As we approached my house, we picked up the mail in the mailbox, which contained a fairly large Yellow Pages phone book, with a big ad for a plumber on the back of the yellow pages.

My daughter looked at the phone book, and asked me “Why is the plumber sending us this big book?”

Having grown up in a post-phone book world (we never use phone books in our house), she had no context or understanding of what a printed phone book is. So naturally, seeing a big book with the plumbers name on the book, she wondered what the book could be that the plumber would be sending us.

Not always, but often, context is required to answer a question correctly. “How well does your database work?” isn’t a question that can be answered without the additional context of “compared to what?”

So when digging for information about how data in your database is being used, be sure to provide some context to the person your questioning, to make sure you get the information you’re really seeking.