Roland Dürre
Sunday July 11th, 2010


Shortly after having graduated from high school, in 1969, sitting in a computer science lecture by the great professor F.-L. Bauer, I first heard the term “context sensitive”. There was a lot I did not understand during the first semester. The same is true for some themes with pictures in the book that was supposed to accompany the lecture “Informatik I”, the famous yellow “Bauer/Goos”.

Many years later, now on a friendship basis with F.-L. Bauer and after many private discussions with him and visits to the computer science section in his company to the “Deutsches Museum”, I finally understand what informatics is all about.
A similar thing happened to me with the term “context sensitive”. The term was relevant for me whenever talking programming and programming languages. During my programming career, I soon realized that self-made software with all its corrections and modifications must be free of “context sensitivity”.

Compared with inter-human communication, the description of a problem in a formal language or the solution of said problem with a programming language seems literally trivial. But especially in real life, “context” plays a significant role.

I notice on a daily basis how pitifully we fail when trying to communicate. This is true both for communication with two people involved and a group or team and, of course, also in a great collective. Communication is terribly hard. If we fail in the process, we often face conflicts and personal unhappiness.

Because communication is more than just the sum of formal and rational elements. Apart from language, there are numerous other channels through which we communicate. Mimicry, gestures and body language are central elements. It is controlled by emotional and erotic moments. The erotic factor is quite determining when it comes to communication. If you deny this, you are being hypocritical, either consciously or sub-consciously.

Not to mention our bitter-sweet characteristics, such as vanity, pride, craving for recognition, likes and dislikes, our wish to “be winners and look good”, our striving towards acceptance and love, our restrictedness as a consequence of too little self-esteem ….

Phew – communication is difficult.

And then there is the much-cursed context. It often makes communication almost impossible. Some way or other, everybody makes a mental connection between every term and his very personal context. Frequently, totally different context worlds clash with each other.

And as a consequence, we almost always misunderstand each other. And then the communication catastrophes happen, making us desperate although we meant well.

(Translated by EG)

4 Kommentare zu “Context”

  1. Chris Wood (Sunday July 11th, 2010)

    “In meinem Programmierer-Leben ist mir schnell klar geworden, dass geschaffene Software inklusive aller Korrekturen und Änderungen frei von “Kontext-Sensivität” sein muss”. That is impossible. It can only be context sensitive to a greater or lesser extent.
    Apart from this, I don’t understand what this posting is trying to say. Is it just that you worry about not understanding my comments?

  2. rd (Sunday July 11th, 2010)

    Lieber Chris,

    🙂 das ist wieder so ein Kommentar, den ich nicht verstehe.

    Was meinst Du denn unter “Kontext-Sensitivität”?

    Vermutlich hast Du da einen ganz anderen Kontext als ich :-).

    Aber zur Erläuterung: Mir geht es um den vom Individuum Mensch geglaubten Kontext in dessen individuellen Lebenssituation. Das Software-Thema habe ich nur als Beispiel gebracht. Und das als ein Alles-oder-Nichts-Beispiel. Entweder schlägt er zu – oder nicht.

    Im Leben aber ist meine Kontextwelt, dass ich nichts weiß und gar nichts wissen kann, weil ich nur ein durch Zufall auf eine ganz komische Art und Weise sehr einseitig intelligent gewordener Affe bin.

    Deine Kontextwelt, wie sie sich aus Deinen Kommentaren mir erschließt, nehme ich so wahr, dass Du ein Gott ähnliches Wesen im Besitz der absoluten Wahrheit bist. Und wenn Du mal nicht in ihrem Besitz bist, dann gehst Du davon aus, dass man sie mit naturwissenschaftlichen Methoden ermitteln könnte.

    Daran glaube ich nicht, und deshalb werden wir immer aneinander vorbeireden.

    Glaube aber nicht, dass dies irgendjemand außer uns beiden interessiert, deshalb ist dies mein letzter Kommentar zu diesem Thema.

  3. Marcus Raitner (Tuesday July 13th, 2010)

    “Kommunikation ist schwierig”. Dem kann ich nur voll zustimmen, möchte aber in Anlehnung an Karl Valentin lieber schreiben: “Kommunikation ist schön, macht aber viel Arbeit.” Das Grundproblem ist meiner Meinung nach, dass Kommunikation für uns einerseits selbstverständlich ist und unbewusst stattfindet, aber andererseits gelungene Kommunikation einer bewussten Anstrengung bedarf. In dem Zusammenhang verweise ich gerne auf die Bücher von Friedemann Schulz von Thun, insbesondere der erste Band von “Miteinander Reden” bringt sehr viele Probleme zwischenmenschlicher Kommunikation in plastischer Weise auf den Punkt. Lese ich immer wieder gerne.

  4. Chris Wood (Tuesday July 13th, 2010)

    Dear Roland, I am happy that you will not comment again. It means that I can have the last word. (You can reply by email). Your last comment was too subtle for me. I get an impression that something in my comments disturbs you, but am not sure what I should change.
    Should I just stop commenting?
    Should I prefix each sentence by “I may be wrong, but ….”?
    Should I stop making silly jokes, (especially recursive ones)?

    Of course we cannot be 100% sure of anything. But it makes no sense to say we know nothing. This throws away the useful verb “know”.
    But I suppose you are playing with Socrates’ paradox that the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing.
    I think it is wonderful that (all) intelligence and knowledge seems to have been generated by random mechanisms. If the mechanisms are only pseudo-random, this is a terrible paradox that blows my mind!
    I shall become God-like when I die and cease to exist.

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