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)

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