20th anniversary of Peopleware Panel

At ICSE 2007, they had a retrospective on the 20th anniversary of Peopleware. Ed Yourdon has a report on it at his blog here. You can also read about it in IEEE Software magazine here. I had never read Peopleware before, so decided shortly thereafter to read a copy. The first thing to note is that it’s hard to come by. Maybe not now – but a year ago, I had a lot of problems finding it. Finally the library found me a beat-up old copy. (I’m still waiting for the copy I ordered off ebay – guess I won’t ever see that one).

In a way, reading the book was reminiscent of reading Bill Curtis’ old articles – in the sense that, wow it’s already been said, and that was over 20-30 years ago now. I guess one thing I really liked about the book is that it took a much broader perspective than what I see the field currently focused on. Where many of the issues studied in the human side of software engineering focus on tools, and helping individuals, and some on team – this book looked more broadly at personality, management, even things like furniture. I think those issues are probably closer to bringing about real innovation than creating a new tool – but perhaps not.

Also, the book made me realize the lack of a coherent research agenda in the field of human side of software engineering. Perhaps this is because the literature is spread across disciplines and we don’t have a conference to attend (yet). But what would our “putting man on the moon” question be, as in deciphering the genetic code. And one thing that’s bothered me a bit – is when it comes to the human side of software engineering, what is it about software that is unique? Why can’t we just study management, or organizational behaviour, or innovation, or psychology, or any other field for that matter – why do we need to study these things in the context of software engineering?

Well anyhow, a bit of food for thought – and definitely get your hands on Peopleware – it’s a must read for this field.


CHASE, JCSCW, other ICSE workshops

First, let me apologize for having so many posts centred on CFPs and so few on other topics. I have some plans for interesting posts in the coming weeks/months, but right now have to be focused on the several workshops that I’m involved with for ICSE.

So, here are the links for a few interesting workshops at ICSE, plus the link for a special issue of JCSCW.

First, and dearest to my heart is CHASE – an ICSE workshop on “Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering.” Potential topics are varied, so look at the webpage. We will try to follow the workshop with a special issue of a journal, but we’re still working on that angle. The main goal of this workshop is to try to formalize the community studying this topic, and to share research results. Papers are due January 24th, but are only 4 page position papers or resarch reports, so get working!

Second, we are co-editing a special issue of Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work on “Software Development as Cooperative Work.” Here you have a much longer time frame to write the paper. Deadline for submissions is September 1st. So, if you haven’t already, frame a topic, and start to conduct the research. There is still loads of time.

I’m also on the PC for two interesting ICSE workshops definitely related to HSSE. The first one is “Socio-technical congruence.” The main topic is looking at coordination in software projects and teams, and how to achieve it more effectively. It is a much more specialized workshop topic than ours, and maybe relates more closely to your research. Should be very interesting, and it has a great organizing committee. This workshop is on a different day than ours, so you could easily attend both.

The second one is “Workshop on End User Software Engineering (WEUSE IV).” This workshop focuses on the challenges (and successes) facing end-users (and researchers in aiding end-users) in creating dependable software. This topic is becoming increasingly important in my research as I am involved in a project working with end-user scientists. Quite an interesting research area that is definitely related to HSSE. Again, this workshop is on a different day than the other two, so you can attend all three!

Any questions, let me know.

ICSE workshop on HSSE

Our ICSE 2008 workshop proposal on Human and Cognitive Aspects of Software Engineering (HCASE) has been accepted. It will be held May 13 at ICSE. More info to follow. Hope to see you in Leipzig.