Designing Human-Intensive Software Systems

A workshop in conjunction with VL/HCC 2011
September 18, 2011, CMU (Pittsburgh, USA) -- EVENT CANCELLED

How should we design systems in which software and people must collaborate to perform critical or sensitive tasks?  Such systems often evolve from purely human protocols for existing tasks.  Software that takes over portions of human protocols must function effectively within the original operating contexts.  People must learn to work effectively with a new partner that may lack flexibility in adapting to new situations.  Some challenges in designing such systems concern behavior in exceptional circumstances: while people can naturally make judgment calls and circumvent a formal protocol if necessary, software must be explicitly designed to gracefully handle such situations.  Others arise when people circumvent the software to perform a task more effectively, perhaps not understanding the consequences of doing so.  Designing these systems requires bringing insights from the human sciences into software engineering.

This workshop seeks to bring together researchers from the human and software sciences to discuss challenges, techniques, and ideas around designing effective human-intensive software systems.  Questions to explore include:
  • What questions should we ask about human context while scoping requirements of such systems?
  • How can the software design mitigate risks of people circumventing its security or safety features?
  • How do we identify the sweet spot between a system remaining flexible for human context and reliability or security?
  • How do we model interactions and acceptable exceptional actions of people and software?
  • What mistakes led to failures of prior human-intensive software systems?
Insights from software engineering, HCI, cognitive science, and behavioral economics would help inform all of these questions.

This will be a true workshop, emphasizing discussion over presentations and publications.  There will be no formal proceedings.  The first part will frame discussion through presentations of positive and negative case studies.  Later, we will explore the case studies through questions of participant interest, as gauged by position papers.  Our two main goals are to spark discussion across software- and human-science experts and to identify a core of interesting case studies and problems to drive research in this area.


We welcome two kinds of submissions:
  • Proposed case studies: A 2-4 page description of a specific human-intensive software system. Accepted case studies will be used to frame discussions during the workshop.  Submissions should describe the problem domain, contextual assumptions, overall system goals, design challenges, and what each of the software and human components must do for the system to make progress.  Descriptions of failed systems are also welcome.  If the author has experience observing or implementing their case study system, brief description of that perspective would be instructive. 
  • Position papers:A 1-4 page description of an interesting research question or perspective on any aspect of the design of such systems (such as useful techniques for scoping systems, requirements gathering, modeling, testing, etc).

Papers must be submitted as PDF files via the online submission system.    Format of papers (single column, etc) is at discretion of the authors.  Accepted case studies and position papers will be posted to the workshop website, but there will be no formal proceedings.

Important Dates

Accepted case studies will be announced prior to the position paper submission deadline.
  • Case study proposals due June 1, 2011 (hard deadline)
  • Case study notification: June 8, 2011
  • Final descriptions due July 15, 2011
  • Position paper submissions due June 30, 2011 (hard deadline)
  • Position paper notification: July 15, 2011
  • Final position papers due Sept 1, 2011

Organizing and Program Committee

  • Kathi Fisler (co-chair), WPI
  • Hadar Ziv (co-chair), University of California, Irvine
  • George Avrunin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • Philip Inglesant, University College London and University of Edinburgh
  • Emerson Murphy-Hill, North Carolina State University
  • Debra Richardson, University of California, Irvine
  • Revi Sterling, University of Colorado, Boulder