Some thoughts on communication – group scaling complexity and objective views
Disclaimer I am just in IT engineer, so keep that in mind when reading
This post will cover some thoughts about my recent communication experiences and those raise questions, which I do not have realistic answers for.
Language and Communication
You probably know the term “Universal Translator”, well, at least if you are into Star Trek. Since this year was also a year to rerun all the series and movies for me, I cannot forget the universal language that is English (I was watching the original and not the German translation).
Also, this year I realized that very often when I am speaking to other people not really everything I say or mean is reaching its destination at the communication partner(s). I could see many transport and protocol issues here, incompatibilities if you will.
The one-on-one communication is easier to handle if you ask during the communication the counterpart whether he understood you or not and whether he showed some kind of acknowledgement for the transmitted information. Active Feedback and mirroring of the information from the counterpart will help you determine how much packet loss has occurred.
When speaking before a group of people it will get harder and harder with the number of participants to get active feedback and it is up to the information transmitter to use a communication language that fits more or most people in the group.
So, can you remember a scene on Star Trek when the communication partner said: “What do you mean?” or did something completely contrary to the things discussed?
Sure there were scences, but for us as viewers the character of the display role implied pretty much the real meaning.
Knowing the people in the group will help to communicate or speaking regularly to the people will also decrease communication errors over time, either through learning or adjustments in communication language.
We speak German, English, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and so on, and then we speak dialects of those languages and different words may have different meanings in the same main language.
Every individual also has his language which is built on political beliefs, knowledge and specialization.
I am a UNIX system engineer with knowledge in networking, Platform Infrastructure, Automation, Security and such. Also, my background is heavily influenced by Open-Source thinking, which is also reflected in my political beliefs.
In the last couple of month I realized that peoples behavior and language, also at work when I talk to coworkers, is tied to their political views and of course their upbringing and school or university education.
And this goes for all people I encounter and speak to.
Scaling of Groups
Small groups with people who speak the same language and have the same mindset are really easy, and we all may know them from our groups of friends or also at work.
Scaling or growing of groups is really hard. Many factors come into place, like
- time spent in a group
- historical events and memories
- close ties to other group members
- communication culture
- group hierarchy
- power struggles for places
And also the growing difference in the communication language spoken within the group.
The number of communication channels is growing and with that misunderstandings and intransparency.
We rarely stay long in the context of a group when the communication does not fit our communication language (anymore). We feel misunderstood and with an increasing number of group members we get less active or positive feedback|reinforcement from our environment.
Acknowledgement for ourselves and the things we say and do is essential.
Big groups are more prone to fall completely apart through the complexity but not only for those factors pointed out.
The Internet and objective truth
Living in a bubble and feel threatend by others people communication and beliefs? Still wonder why?
I recently read an essay about Hegel and Human Nature, which can be found under
I really cannot grasp how old you guys are but in the pre-internet era you had to go the library and read, buy books or study for a specialized field. Maybe you knew people that studied philosophy, sociology, physics, biology and so on and could learn from them. But the access to knowledge was much more limited.
Today it is easy to pick fragments of knowledge from all kinds of special fields and mix them together without any real background and call it conclusion.
This self-build conclusion is then sold as the truth.
Coming back to languages and groups. Now forge an own truth and call it objective. It can be pointed to the sources that were used for reference. This objective truth only exists within your group boundaries.
Welcome to religion / dogmatism
While in history objective truth may even have been religion or political beliefs, we have entered an era of more diverse beliefs.
While ignoring those who really seek an objective truth, the people found in the new blocks of groups who preach their diverse absolutism are a problem for complex group structures like nations and super blocks like Europe and the US.
So what now?
Is the path to a new authoritarian and controlling system like #china the only way to save Nations?
And everything will be done to save those structures of property and power...