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Response to [Towards… Context and Context-Awareness] by Dey & Abowd

One Sentence

This paper surveyed related work, defined and categorized two concepts – context and context-awareness.

Key Points

  • This paper’s definition of context
    Context is information that be used to characterized the situation of an entity. An entity is a person, or object that is considered relevant to the interaction between a user and an application, including the user and application themselves.
  • This paper’s definition of context-awareness
    A system is context-aware if it uses contexts to provide relevant information and/or services to the user, where relevancy depends on the user’s task.
  • When humans talk with humans, they are able to use implicit situational information, or context, to increase the conversational bandwidth… In traditional interactive computing, users have an impoverished mechanism for providing input to computers.
  • This paper’s categorization of context
    In this initial categorization, we have a simple two-tiered system. The four primary pieces of context already identified are on the first level (time, place, identify, activity). All the other types of context are on the second level.
  • This paper’s categorization of context-awareness
    1) presentation of information and services to a user;
    2) automatic execution of a service; and
    3) tagging of context to information for later retrieval.


  • How to characterize previous definitions of context and context-awareness?
    Defining context: 1) enumeration of examples; 2) synonyms.
    Defining context-aware: 1) using context; 2) adapting to context.
  • When surveying definition of ‘context’, the paper seemed to ignore literature outside computing.
  • Context is distilled objective information; context-aware is subjective application of context.
  • Two kinds of context-aware application: context provided to an application as useful information; context restricts the behavior of an application.
  • It is crucial to separate context sensing and interpretation, and, the application of context to create context-awareness.

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