My daughter, Wren, enjoys the fun facts found on the inside of drink lids or on some of her favorite websites. She loves to regale me with such nuggets as, “On average, wherever you are, there is a spider within eight feet of you,” and “Kangaroos cannot walk backwards.” While mostly useless, some of them are rather intriguing. On occasion, she has read a fact that I have found bizarre: “Slugs have four noses,” or “Horseshoe crab blood has probably saved your life.” We’ll be in the car, heading to some activity, and she’ll throw one out. We’ll mull it over and then move on to our activity. An hour later, I typically won’t remember whatever the fun fact was, except maybe that spider one. The reason? Context. Without context or some framework to help make them meaningful, facts can’t translate into knowledge; they remain data.
Saunya Peterson, who identifies herself as a professional communicator, argues that story often gets lost when you present facts without context. Her example: “Young girl is mysteriously transported to a strange land where she kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” Peterson summarizes that while these are the facts of the Wizard of Oz, it is decidedly not the story.
John Kotter, a Harvard Business School Professor agrees. He argues that having more data often is less persuasive. It’s easy to get into a recitation of facts. It’s getting easier and easier to find them, like on drink lids. But it’s not just facts our constituents want — they are swimming in them. They want usable information or education within a meaningful context. Let’s not forget that in Extension and Outreach, we pull together the content derived from research, accumulated field experiences, and relevant principles to provide citizens with independent, impartial information, and through partnerships, the useful context. See you there.
 While it is debatable, from a mathematical perspective it’s possible unless you are floating in the middle of the ocean – at which point, you probably have other issues to worry about more than spiders.
 True. They cannot walk or hop backwards. But why would they want to?
 True. Although, calling them “noses” may be stretching it, they do have four pneumostomes, which are holes they breathe through (and which they can close).
 True. Horseshoe crab blood is used to test drugs from endotoxins. If you have ever had a tetanus shot, a flu shot, or any kind of shot, it was likely tested with horseshoe crab blood.