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Harnessing complexity in CSCW

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Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands


We argue that socio-technical systems can be understood as complex adaptive systems, that is, systems containing component sub-systems interacting such that they co-evolve This viewpoint may allow us to understand more clearly the factors that underlie the complexities of socio-technical systems, and allows for a new approach to systems design predicated on unpredictable adaptive processes. System designers, we argue, need to seek to understand the underlying structures, drivers and nature of change within the system and of the system as a whole This paper presents an outline of the complexity mechanisms that operate within socio-technical systems, and illustrates the concepts and system design implications by way of a case.


Kaplan, Simon M.; Seebeck, Lesley (2001): Harnessing complexity in CSCW. ECSCW 2001: Proceedings of the Seventh European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. DOI: 10.1007/0-306-48019-19. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. ISBN: 978-0-306-48019-5. pp. 359-378. Full Papers. Bonn, Germany. 2001-09-16