I am the founder and chair of the Engineering of Social Informatics Research Group (ESOTICS) in which we view software as an integral part of a larger ecosystem that, besides technology, incorporates business and social aspects. We focus on the inter-relation and mutual dependency between software and their dynamic organizational and social context.
We study various kinds of social requirements and the engineering challenges to build a system able to accommodate them and adapt to their changes and dynamics. An example of such requirements relates to transparency requirements. Transparency requirements engineering aims to enable an informed decision on the information to make transparent. Lack of transparency may be associated with privacy requirements but we also recognize other reasons equally important such as information overload, pressure, creating bias, etc. Another example relates to motivation requirements. These requirements are typically realized via different technologies called differently as Gamification, Persuasive Technology, Entertainment Computing and Incentive-Centred Design, and each having certain emphasis. We study the coherence between those requirements and the technology meant to achieve them on one side and the other requirements and characteristics of an enterprise, including the social and mental well-being at workplace, on the other. Our argument is that these mechanisms, intended to meet motivational requirements and maximize efficiency and enjoyment, may have negative side-effects which need to be captured and catered for early on at the engineering stage. This includes creating unnecessary competition, reducing quality to win the reward, etc. The design of such technology would also need to be seen within the wider picture of the enterprise and integrated to their organizational model, values and processes.
Since social requirements are typically dynamic, e.g., influenced by personal preferences and social norms, our engineering process takes a lifelong open style. Our way to keep the requirements and design models and knowledge base updated is to open a feedback channel with the actual users and stakeholders of the system. This introduces an engineering challenge relating to how to get meaningful and trustworthy feedback still without affecting users experience and causing additional overhead. This is also a major focus area of our research.
We have a keen interest in studying Digital Addiction. We define Digital Addiction as a problematic usage of digital devices which is characterized by properties like being excessive, obsessive, compulsive, impulsive and hasty. The sparse literature on the topic has mainly focused on the user’s side, e.g. for the analysis of the psychological and social reasons, symptoms and side-effects. Our argument is on the need for an accountable software design which treats awareness about problematic usage as a first class requirement. The engineering of predictive and preventive methods to combat Digital Addiction is one of our main focus areas. For more information, visit our Digital Addiction Research project page.
We welcome collaborations. If you are interested, please get in touch with us.