How to Get a Context-Driven Hangover

On March 20, 2015, in Events, by Siim Sutrop

It was Friday the 13th exactly one week ago. I was sitting at work trying to clear my head from the terrible hangover that kept me away from being productive. We had a hot-fix release scheduled for that day and I struggled with designing my testing for a bug-fix-script that finishes running and stopped workflows when all the tasks in them are actually already completed. But this is another story.

This story here is about the hangover. You see, there are actually many different kinds of hangovers. Hangovers caused from alcohol, eating, sleeping, substances, flying. People tell me that you can even have a hangover from too much sex. There seems to be always a component that is either abused, overused or just bad for your body and mind. My hangover on Friday the 13th was caused by too much context-driven energy.

This may sound eyebrow-raising to you, so I’ll elaborate on that a little. The night before Friday the Estonian context-driven testing community (I’m not sure there are any other testing communities in Estonia) held their traditional “Testers’ Night Out” event (there is even a non-trending hashtag for that on Twitter). This time eight testing enthusiasts from four different companies, connected only through the appreciation towards the craft, sat around the table in a local establishment and for several hours indulged in, what can only be called, battle of wits.

The subjects discussed ranged from personal topics to current work related problems to seemingly abstract questions about the existence of testing. Following is a small glimpse at the main themes raised during the evening (thanks go to Helena Jeret-Mäe for “logging” our thoughts):

  • Do you remember the first thing that you consciously tested after becoming aware of software testing?
  • Do you remember the first thing you tested using skills of testing before you became aware of such a thing as software testing?
  • How many schools of testing are there and why does that matter?
  • What’s the difference between a test manager and a test lead?
  • Will your skills decay if you only do your job and won’t pay attention to theory?
  • What’s the percentage of time to spend on theory vs practice to be a good tester?
  • How dangerous is road hypnosis and cruise control in testing?
  • Is that my fifth drink coming up?
  • How do you test this and how do you find out about what I need?

But back to the hangover and the underlying causation – too much context-driven energy. With some people you just can’t have a “normal” discussion, where you present experience, pseudo facts and shallow arguments to advance the evening and have a good time without the need to explain, argument and rethink. No, with some you have a good time while everything is a challenge.

It’s not even so much about the topics that were discussed but more about the way answers and questions were being processed that evening. In a need to explain why I felt like I did the morning after, a quote from an article I recently read seems suitable. Hopefully it will help you understand better what went on.

“[…] briefly, critical thinking is defined as […] the “engine” that drives how we decide what to do or believe in a given context. Critical thinking comprises behavioral tendencies (e.g., curiosity, open-mindedness) and cognitive skills (e.g., analysis, inference, evaluation).”

Quitadamo, I. J., Faiola, C. L., Johnson, J. E., & Kurtz, M. J. (2008). Community-based Inquiry Improves Critical Thinking in General Education Biology. CBE Life Sciences Education, 7(3), 327–337. doi:10.1187/cbe.07-11-0097

It was exactly this accumulation, on the threshold of Friday the 13th, of immense levels of curiosity, open-mindedness, and use of cognitive skills, which made it such a marvelously fascinating experience for me. And if you ever have a hangover from too much context-driven energy, just try to cure it with testing something. It’ll get you right back on the track.

Thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and thank you to the participants who made that awesome night happen:

Grete Näpits, Helena Jeret-Mäe, Heiki Roletsky, Martin Ulst, Martti Kebbinau, Oliver Vilson and Rasmus Koorits.


Till next time,
Siim Sutrop


P.S Do you remember the first thing that you consciously tested after becoming aware of software testing? You’re welcome to drop a line in the comments below.


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