Category Archives: Human Centred Computing

Muft Internet: Case Study for Human Centred Computing and Sociotechnical Systems

Relationship between Human Centred Computing and Sociotechnical Systems

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Why would the system be used?

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Why does s/he engage in the activity?

Muft Internet: Case Study for Human Centred Computing and Sociotechnical Systems

What is Human Centred Computing?

Human-centered computing (HCC) is emerged from the convergence of multiple disciplines that are concerned both with understanding human beings and with the design of computational systems or artifacts. Human-centered computing is closely related to human-computer interaction and information science. Human-centered computing is usually concerned with systems and practices of technology use while human-computer interaction is more focused on ergonomics and the usability of computing artifacts and information science is focused on practices surrounding the collection, manipulation, and use of information.

Human-centered computing researchers and practitioners usually come from one or more of disciplines such as computer science, human factors, sociology, psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, communication studies, graphic design and industrial design. Some researchers focus on understanding humans, both as individuals and in social groups, by focusing on the ways that human beings adopt and organize their lives around computational technologies. Others focus on designing and developing new computational artifacts.

What are Sociotechnical Systems?

Sociotechnical systems (STS) in organizational development is an approach to complex organizational work design that recognizes the interaction between people and technology in workplaces. The term also refers to the interaction between society’s complex infrastructures and human behaviour. In this sense, society itself, and most of its substructures, are complex sociotechnical systems. Sociotechnical systems pertains to theory regarding the social aspects of people and society and technical aspects of organizational structure and processes. Here, technical does not necessarily imply material technology.

Essay Review: The Principles of Sociotechnical Design

The is short review of an essay titled “The Principles of Sociotechnical Systems” by Albert Cherns. The article has been reviewed with a perspective of Human Centred Computing.

INTRODUCTION

Most organization are a result of chaotic growth. Organization design can be tricky because this phenomenon. There is huge divide between engineers and designers for the very same reason. Piece by piece an organization is put together with almost no possibility to think of Organization Design. It’s difficult to predict human behaviour. This is the reason we need to account for all contextual possibilities while designing a system. To Err, is human.

Any social system, if it must survive, must perform the function of Parson’s (1951) four subsystems:  Adaptation to environment; integration of activities of the people with the organization, including the resolution of conflict whether task based, organization based or interpersonally based; and providing for the continued occupation of the essential roles through recruitment and socialization.

There are many parties involved in the design of an effective sociotechnical system – engineers, designers, managers, social scientists, financial controllers and so on. Here is are a list of guidelines proposed by the author.

COMPATIBILITY

The process of design should be compatible with it objectives. The system should be self evolving and should be easily compatible with change. The structure and function of an organization can always take different paths and self-modification is a must to harness creativity from the individuals part of this system.

MINIMAL CRITICAL SPECIFICATION

The behaviour of the people need not be controlled by meticulously definitions of what needs to be done or not. A broad guidelines should be arranged within which people can work creatively using the best of their skills with varied methods and techniques. Every person is different and a well drafted minimal critical specification could benefit the entire organization as a whole. The design should be silent and intuitive, not over explanatory!

THE SOCIOTECHNICAL CRITERION

Any system is bound to have variances from its desired state. The sociotechnical criterion of these principles states that the variances needs to be controlled as much as possible. This can be done not only by investigating the source of the variance but also redesigning in the system in a way that accounts for these variances.

THE MULTIFUNCTIONAL PRINCIPLE – ORGANISM V/S MECHANISM

There needs to be a clear distinction between a unit and the whole. The unit and the whole behave differently from each other. Every unit is treated as if it is replaceable. This could arise problems in certain situations like environmental demands.

THE BOUNDARY LOCATION

In any organization there ought to be departmental boundaries somewhere. The crucial part is how to identify the boundary location that does not interfere with sharing of knowledge and experience.

INFORMATION FLOW

It’s important to have a clear information flow in the system. The principle of Information Flow states that target systems should be designed in a way that the objective of the system designed needs to account for different hierarchies and mitigate variances.

SUPPORT CONGRUENCE

This principle states that the systems of social support should be designed in such a way that it reinforces the behaviour the system is supposed to bring out.

DESIGN AND HUMAN VALUES

Te core members of any sociotechnical systems are the members in it. The design should consider all different human aspects that harness high quality work and sustain the system. Quality can be a subjective term however it can be considered as an over all good experience of interaction with and within the system.

INCOMPLETION

From the moment a system design is complete, it is time for a redesign. Usage gives us an understanding of how the designed system can be further improved over and over again in a cycle in order to reduce constraints and variances and keep up with changing times and external environments

 

What is Human Centred Computing?

What is Human Centered Computing (1)
Why are humans behaving this way? Where are we going wrong as technologists, designers, developers, business specialist etc? Is this the kind of society we want to we want to live in?
What is Human Centered Computing (1)
Technology has given us everything we need as Human Beings. Yet, it has taken so much from us as a society. Why does this happen?
What is Human Centered Computing
What kind of society are we designing for? Zombies, dinosaurs or Aliens?

To me Human Centred Computing is not just a field of study. It’s a new philosophy to look at the way we design and create. Rethinking the purpose of computing – from “user centred” to “Human + Society centred”.