JCSCW Vol. 18 (2009)

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  • Journal Article
    Designing for Diagnosing: Introduction to the Special Issue on Diagnostic Work
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 39965) Büscher, Monika; O’Neill, Jacki; Rooksby, John
    When faced with anything out of the ordinary, faulty or suspicious, the work of determining and categorizing the trouble, and scoping for what to do about it (if anything) often go hand in hand—this is diagnostic work. In all its expert and non-expert forms diagnostic work is often both intellectual and embodied, collaborative and distributed, and ever more deeply entangled with technologies. Yet, it is often poorly supported by them. In this special issue we show that diagnostic work is an important and pervasive aspect of people’s activities at work, at home, and on the move. The papers published in this Special Issue come from a range of domains including, ambulance dispatch, a friendly fire incident and anomaly response for the NASA space shuttle; software, network and photocopier troubleshooting; and users attempting to use a new travel management system. These papers illustrate the variety of work that may be thought of as diagnostic. We hope that bringing a focus on diagnostic work to these diverse practices and situations opens up a rich vein of inquiry for CSCW scholars, designers, and users.
  • Journal Article
    Testing in the Wild: The Social and Organisational Dimensions of Real World Practice
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 40059) Rooksby, John; Rouncefield, Mark; Sommerville, Ian
    Testing is a key part of any systems engineering project. There is an extensive literature on testing, but very little that focuses on how testing is carried out in real-world circumstances. This is partly because current practices are often seen as unsophisticated and ineffective. We believe that by investigating and characterising the real-world work of testing we can help question why such ‘bad practices’ occur and how improvements might be made. We also argue that the testing literature is too focused on technological issues when many of the problems, and indeed strengths, have as much do with work and organisation. In this paper we use empirical examples from four systems engineering projects to demonstrate how and in what ways testing is a cooperative activity. In particular we demonstrate the ways in which testing is situated within organisational work and satisfices organisational and marketplace demands.
  • Journal Article
    Leveraging Coordinative Conventions to Promote Collaboration Awareness
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, No. 4, 40026) Cabitza, Federico; Simone, Carla; Sarini, Marcello
    The paper discusses the conventions used by medical practitioners to improve their collaboration mediated by Clinical Records. The case study focuses on the coordinative conventions identified in two wards of an Italian hospital and highlights their role and importance in the definition of the requirements of any system supportive of collaborative work practices. These requirements are expressed in terms of the provision of artifact-mediated information that promotes collaboration awareness. The study identified several kinds of Awareness Promoting Information (API): the paper discusses how they can be conveyed both in the web of documental artifacts constituting a Clinical Record and in its computer-based counterpart, the Electronic Patient Record (EPR). The paper ends with the implications for the design of EPRs and for their integration with Hospital Information Systems in light of the findings.
  • Journal Article
    How to Use Information Technology for Cooperative Work: Development of Shared Technological Frames
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, No. 1, 39710) Menold, Natalja
    Technological frames, participants’ assumptions about information technology (IT), and in particular about the usage of the technology for everyday cooperative work, are a relevant factor for IT related behavior. Incongruent technological frames are associated with problems during the application and use of a new IT in an organization. This paper presents a field study which applies a pre–post-design in a freight forwarding company. During face-to-face discussion the participating employees of the company negotiated agreements regarding the future usage of a new mobile technology system for every day cooperative work between dispatcher agents and truck drivers. To support the development of shared technological frames the moderation technique STWT (socio-technical walkthrough) was applied. The results describe the structural changes in technological frames, and show to what extent these were shared by the participants. Based on the results possibilities to improve support for the development of shared technological frames are discussed.
  • Journal Article
    Using Developer Activity Data to Enhance Awareness during Collaborative Software Development
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 40094) Omoronyia, Inah; Ferguson, John; Roper, Marc; Wood, Murray
    Software development is a global activity unconstrained by the bounds of time and space. A major effect of this increasing scale and distribution is that the shared understanding that developers previously acquired by formal and informal face-to-face meetings is difficult to obtain. This paper proposes a shared awareness model that uses information gathered automatically from developer IDE interactions to make explicit orderings of tasks, artefacts and developers that are relevant to particular work contexts in collaborative, and potentially distributed, software development projects. The research findings suggest that such a model can be used to: identify entities (developers, tasks, artefacts) most associated with a particular work context in a software development project; identify relevance relationships amongst tasks, developers and artefacts e.g. which developers and artefacts are currently most relevant to a task or which developers have contributed to a task over time; and, can be used to identify potential bottlenecks in a project through a ‘social graph’ view. Furthermore, this awareness information is captured and provided as developers work in different locations and at different times.
  • Journal Article
    On The Roles of APIs in the Coordination of Collaborative Software Development
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 40072) Souza, Cleidson R. B.; Redmiles, David F.
    The principle of information hiding has been very influential in software engineering since its inception in 1972. This principle prescribes that software modules hide implementation details from other modules in order to reduce their dependencies. This separation also decreases the dependency among software developers implementing these modules, thus simplifying the required coordination. A common instantiation of this principle widely used in the industry is in the form of application programming interfaces (APIs). While previous studies report on the general use and benefits of APIs, they have glossed over the detailed ways in which APIs facilitate the coordination of work. In order to unveil these mechanisms, we performed a qualitative study on how practitioners use APIs in their daily work. Using ethnographic data from two different software development teams, we identified three roles played by APIs in the coordination of software development projects. These roles are described using three metaphors: APIs as contracts, APIs as boundaries, and APIs as communication mechanisms. As contracts, APIs allow software developers to work in parallel and independently. As a communication mechanism, APIs facilitate communication among software developers by giving them something specific to talk about. At the same time, APIs establish the boundaries between developers, and, accordingly, what should be talked about. This paper also reports on problems the studied teams face when using APIs to coordinate their work. Based on these results, we draw theoretical implications for collaborative software engineering.
  • Journal Article
    Scenario-Based Methods for Evaluating Collaborative Systems
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, No. 4, 40026) Haynes, Steven R.; Purao, Sandeep; Skattebo, Amie L.; Haynes, Steven R.
    Evaluating collaborative systems remains a significant challenge. Most evaluation methods approach the problem from one of two extremes: focused evaluation of specific system features, or broad ethnographic investigations of system use in context. In this paper, we develop and demonstrate a middle ground for evaluation: explicit reflections on scenarios of system use coupled with analysis of the consequences of these use scenarios, represented as claims. Extending prior work in scenario-based design and claims analysis, we develop a framework for a multi-perspective, multi-level evaluation of collaborative systems called SWIMs: scenario walkthrough and inspection methods . This approach is centered on the capture, aggregation, and analysis of users’ reflections on system support for specific scenarios. We argue that this approach not only provides the contextual sensitivity and use centricity of ethnographic techniques, but also sufficient structure for method replication, which is common to more feature-based evaluation techniques. We demonstrate with an extensive field study how SWIMs can be used for summative assessment of system performance and organizational contributions, and formative assessment to guide system and feature re-design. Results from the field study provide preliminary indications of the method’s effectiveness and suggest directions for future research.
  • Journal Article
    Software Development Cultures and Cooperation Problems: A Field Study of the Early Stages of Development of Software for a Scientific Community
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 40072) Segal, Judith
    In earlier work, I identified a particular class of end-user developers, who include scientists and whom I term ‘professional end-user developers’, as being of especial interest. Here, I extend this work by articulating a culture of professional end-user development, and illustrating by means of a field-study how the influence of this culture causes cooperation problems in an inter-disciplinary team developing a software system for a scientific community. My analysis of the field study data is informed by some recent literature on multi-national work cultures. Whilst acknowledging that viewing a scientific development through a lens of software development culture does not give a full picture, I argue that it nonetheless provides deep insights.
  • Journal Article
    Achieving Diagnosis by Consensus
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, No. 4, 40026) Kane, Bridget; Luz, Saturnino
    This paper provides an analysis of the collaborative work conducted at a multidisciplinary medical team meeting, where a patient’s definitive diagnosis is agreed, by consensus. The features that distinguish this process of diagnostic work by consensus are examined in depth. The current use of technology to support this collaborative activity is described, and experienced deficiencies are identified. Emphasis is placed on the visual and perceptual difficulty for individual specialities in making interpretations, and on how, through collaboration in discussion, definitive diagnosis is actually achieved. The challenge for providing adequate support for the multidisciplinary team at their meeting is outlined, given the multifaceted nature of the setting, i.e. patient management, educational, organizational and social functions, that need to be satisfied.
  • Journal Article
    Bridging, Patching and Keeping the Work Flowing: Defect Resolution in Distributed Software Development
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 18, 40072) Avram, Gabriela; Bannon, Liam; Bowers, John; Sheehan, Anne; Sullivan, Daniel K.
    This paper reports on results from a long-term field study of globally distributed software development projects within a multinational organization. The research explores the issues involved in performing global software development, utilizing a perspective informed by CSCW research concerning the local organization of work practices and the key role of workers in being able to intervene in the ‘flow of work’ where necessary. The paper also raises some more general questions concerning the field of Global Software Development (GSD), in terms of the concepts and methods being used in the area. Our contribution is in the form of a CSCW-informed empirical study of the use of defect (or ‘bug’) tracking systems—systems which support the identification, classification and resolution of defects in the emerging software. In one case, the team persisted with a defect tracking system that they had used for years and maintained it in parallel with a system used by co-workers in other countries—all the while attempting to implement a bridge between the two. In the other, we report on how local software patches were created to allow for local work to proceed while not interfering with the existing coordination mechanisms between the local site and remote co-workers who were responsible for creating daily builds according to the overall project plan. In both cases, local practices were shaped by the necessity to keep work flowing across the whole project, even if this involved what might, at first sight, seem to go against project-wide practice. We discuss implications of these findings in terms of a key distinction between externally-prescribed ‘workflow’ and internally-managed ‘flow of work’ activities. We also explore how a heterogeneous ‘assembly’ of variably coupled systems may be the most appropriate image for technological support of distributed teams as they keep the work flowing in an orderly fashion. Overall, our work suggests that studies of global software development can profit from the CSCW tradition of workplace studies both conceptually and methodologically.