Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Building context like Thomas Jefferson

During a recent trip to Washington DC I got to view the library Thomas Jefferson sold to the Federal Government in 1815 for $24,000. The sale contained some 6,487 books which are now part of the Library of Congress:

(I found this image on Google. Photographs weren't allowed.)

Jefferson built his library over the course of his life, collecting books from every place he visited, in every category known to man. Anything he needed to learn or wanted to learn came from books. In fact Jefferson had so many books he had to come up with categories to place them:
  • Memory
  • Reason
  • Imagination
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Fine Arts
What does this have to do with testing? Testing like most things is about learning. In the context-driven school of testing (yes I used the word school) good practices come from context and the way we place things in context is to have a broad base of understanding. Just like Jefferson had (I'm assuming). When he would deal with problems in his private or public life his wide ranging education allowed him to frame problems and solutions.

Today we don't have to learn just by reading, although books are our largest source for information, we have many forms of communication for learning to be better testers (I'm not talking about formal education) that haven't existed for very long like virtual conferencing, conferences, blogs, etc. We (including myself) don't really have an excuse for not using them!

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