The first International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Modeling and Using Context (CONTEXT-97) was held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 4–6 1997. This article provides a summary of the presentations and discussions during the three days with a focus on context in applications. The notion of context is far from defined, and is dependent in its interpretation on a cognitive science versus an engineering (or system building) point of view. However, the conference makes it possible to identify new trends in the formalization of context at a theoretical level, as well as in the use of context in real-world applications. Results presented at the conference are ascribed in the realm of the works on context over the past few years at specific workshops and symposia. The diversity of the attendees' origins (artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, etc.) demonstrates that there are different types of context, not a unique one. For instance, logicians model context at the level of the knowledge representation and the reasoning mechanisms, while cognitive scientists consider context at the level of the interaction between two agents (i.e. two humans or a human and a machine). In the latter case, there are now strong arguments proving that one can speak of context only in reference to its use (e.g. context of an item or of a problem solving exercise). Moreover, there are different types of context that are interdependent. This makes it possible to understand why, despite the consensus on some context aspects, agreement on the notion of context is not yet achieved.