Why is the subject difficult to understand

News portal - Ruhr University Bochum

How good when a professional comes when the computer doesn't. But how complicated when he or she explains what you can do yourself the next time if there is a problem. There are reasons that users' brains switch to pull-through as soon as IT professionals have raised to an explanation. Steffen Hessler, who is writing his doctoral thesis in the Sec-Human Progress College, is researching them. And he's investigating how communication could work better.

Why is it so difficult for IT specialists and ordinary users to understand each other?
IT specialists speak and write in a very technical language. Technical languages ​​are highly standardized - in contrast to dialects, for example - and enable experts to communicate very efficiently.

The use of technical language also increases acceptance in a group. There are also varieties of specialist languages ​​in the same - these are different linguistic positions such as sociolects, dialects or the language of young people. A young person speaks differently to her parents than to her friends of the same age. If she applies for an internship, she will communicate differently with the supervisor than with the first two groups. So we usually adapt our linguistic register to the respective situation or group. This happens automatically in everyday communication.

From my personal experience, I can say that communication is kept rather tight.

Here is the approach of my research: Technical languages ​​are important, but communication should be adapted to target groups.

What is the language of IT experts?
From my personal experience I can say that communication is kept rather tight. You want to communicate efficiently and economically. IT professionals very often use subject-specific abbreviations, such as 3C, in non-subject contexts. 3C stands for CCC. This is an abbreviation for Chaos Computer Club or Chaos Communication Congress. Unfortunately, the experts often achieve the opposite, as information may be lost.

In interdisciplinary exchange, it is important that communication takes place on a common basis. As I come from the field of linguistics and work with IT specialists and researchers from other technical areas, this research is doubly interesting for me.

Specialized language areas benefit from model speakers who can be used as a guide.

On the one hand, I try to help enable better and more efficient collaboration. Here, departments work with each other, where it first has to be found out where there are similarities and differences. On the other hand, for my dissertation, which combines linguistics and IT security, it is essential to research how information from the other specialist area can be made usable.

How could it work better with the communication?
The coded technical language must be broken up to a certain extent so that those involved can communicate in a way that is appropriate for the target group. The linguistic behavior should be adapted to the respective communication situation. Of course, it must then be clear to a spokesperson that one should talk differently to people who are unfamiliar with the subject in order to enable successful communication. So in a certain way you put yourself in the position of the other.

Other specialist language areas also benefit from model spokespeople who can be used as a guide. In the standard language, these are news anchors, daily newspapers, professors, i.e. communication participants with high prestige.

Terms should be clear.

Uniformity is just as essential as the establishment of certain communication standards. Terms should be clear.

At IT conferences it is reported again and again that communication between different areas of a company is not working. This leads to misunderstandings, omissions or even to the fact that certain ideas are not implemented. This can have serious consequences, especially in the area of ​​IT security. Linguists can help make communication more efficient here.

The progress college Sec-Human

Since July 2016, the Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research has been funding the NRW Progress College Sec-Human at the Ruhr University in cooperation with the Technical University of Dortmund and the University of Applied Sciences Dortmund. The aim is to build a bridge between theoretical IT security and its practical application in daily life.

13 doctoral students work on interdisciplinary questions relating to the key topic “Security for people in cyberspace”. She was supported by university professors from the fields of electrical engineering, mathematics, media studies, German studies, anthropology, law, social science and educational psychology as well as a group of practical partners.