Paper Outline for 158.729 Social-technical System Design and Evaluation


Paper Number and Title: 158.729: Social-technical System Design and Evaluation


Credits Value: 15                                                                     Semester: S1      This page is at

Campus: Albany                                                                      Mode: Internal

Paper Coordinator: Brian Whitworth  SEAT Building 106, Room 20F
Office Hours: Quad A quadrangle or quad A office, Wed 1-3pm or by email appointment at

Other Contributing Staff: None

Aim: To introduce students to social-technical systems (STS), including the principles of their Analysis, Design and Evaluation.

Text: The Social Design of Technical Systems

See also, The Handbook of Socio-technical Design and Social Networking Also Open link

Calendar Prescription:

This course is designed to help students planning research in the design and evaluation of socio-technical systems. It is founded on the premise that one must understand social requirements to design, implement or operate socio-technical system, i.e. human-centred computing.  Such systems could be web-based, but include any multi-user application where people interact and affect each other online, including social-network systems, online game worlds and communities of practice. The course will help students understand socio-technical systems.


Learning Outcomes:

Modern information systems are no longer simply “technologies”. Social-technical systems are computer technologies that also enable social interaction of any type, whether conversation (email), group discussion (chat), joint editing (wiki), trade (electronic markets like E-bay), online learning systems (Stream) or social networking systems like FaceBook. Such systems, in fields like health, education and the community, raise new challenges in design and evaluation. They require a multi-disciplinary approach that combines social and technical knowledge in innovative ways. A student who successfully completes this paper will be able to:

1.           Critically read and understand research and knowledge on social theories and principles that affect information systems architecture and design.

2.           Use online resources, such as the ACM digital library, to investigate in detail the latest research in an approved area of their choice relevant to this subject.

3.           Understand practically the many different types of online social-technical systems, and relate their differences in human goals to the success or failure of their technical design.

The course steps students through firstly reading and summarizing STS research, then critically reviewing it, then a practical evaluation and finally to developing a theoretical STS design proposal.

Prerequisite(s): none


Corequisite(s): none


Restrictions: no restrictions


Assessment: Course assessment (subject to modification) is broken down as follows:




Graded Out Of

Assignment 1.



Assignment 2.



Assignment 3.







Written material:

a. Loose material is not acceptable. Do not submit assignments with expensive bindings, as you may have to come to get them back. Your work is not judged by its cover. A single staple in the top left corner is satisfactory for most printed work. Your name must be on all work submitted.

b. ALL WRITTEN WORK MUST BE SPELL CHECKED. Bad spelling indicates carelessness or ignorance, and spell checking is easy to do.


For any assignment, work that is unstapled loses 5%. Any spelling error found that could have been detected by a spell checker will result in an automatic deduction of 5% out of 100% from the final grade.


All assignments submitted for this course originate in computer form. Students must retain a copy on their own computer of all material submitted, as backup in case something happens to their submitted work. By submitting any material to this course for assessment, the student authorizes instructors to retain a copy of that material for grading and teaching. Instructors may reference a part of that material, or parts of it, given the student involved is anonymous, for the purpose of instructing other students, and for their learning benefit.


Deadlines and Penalties: Assignments must be done professionally and submitted on time. Being on time is part of being professional. Plan to complete assignments with this in mind. If you leave things until the last moment, you are predictably vulnerable to the unexpected. All assignments due in class (see Timetable) are due at the beginning of the stated class period. For assessments that involve specific events, like project progress presentations and the final presentation, no “late” or “redo” is possible, as part of the desired learning experience is that event. For the final project, the time deadline for submission is very tight, so each working day late will reduce the points graded out of by 10, and projects submitted more than two days late will not be accepted, except under exceptional circumstances. Other assignments lose 10% for each working day late, and will not be accepted at all after five days (over one working week late).


Requirements to Pass the Paper: All of the course assessments must be attempted. Also note that failure to complete any of these requirements will lead to a DNC unless covered by the Aegrotat Regulations.


Learning Program and Schedule: The student will be led through a process of study that begins with simple readings and ends with a major project. However the level will be postgraduate, and so students are expected to study independently at the requisite level.


E-learning Category: Web supported through the syllabus and other materials available at


Conditions for Aegrotat Pass: As this paper does not have a compulsory assessment element that occurs at a fixed time and place aegrotat applications will not be considered. Contact the Paper Coordinator if you are unable to complete assessment elements because of illness, injury or a serious crisis.


Conditions for Impaired Performance: If you consider that your performance in, or preparation for, an examination, or another compulsory assessment element that occurs at a fixed time and place, has been seriously impaired by illness, injury or a serious crisis, you may apply for an impaired performance consideration.  You must apply on the form available from the Examinations Office, the Student Health Service or the Student Counselling Service.


Student Time Budget: Information Systems Project is a 15-credit paper. That equates to 12.5 hours of work per week for a 15-week semester, or the equivalent of over 4 weeks of full-time work (187 hours).

·    The writing format required is as described in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th edition). This "research writers Bible" offers practical information about the structure of research articles, grammar and punctuation guidelines, how to properly cite and reference outside sources, and much more. Students for whom English is a second language will benefit from many of the language guidelines specified in the APA Manual. The final written project report must comply with APA style as described in the APA Manual.

·    For a journal article: Spark, J. S., Glow, J. P. and Twinkle, L., (1994). APA format for journal articles. Management Science, 28(10), 1187-1197.
For a book:   Spark, J. S., Glow, J. P.and Twinkle, L., (1994), APA Format For Books, New York: McGraw Hill, Ed. 3, 204-230
For a web site: give originator, URL and date viewed

 In the text use "(author, date)", then list all citations in alphabetical order by author at the end of the assignment

See examples of APA format


Tuesday, 2-5pm in QA5

Note: There is a lot of material because that is the nature of the subject. You need to pick an area to focus on.






25 Feb

1. Introduction: The evolution of computing
STS slides

Read: Chapter 1
Be prepared to discuss in class next week
Begin: Asg 1 Select questions


4 Mar

1. (ctd) STS Handbook I.

Discuss questions.


11 Mar

2. Design Spaces. Slides STS Handbook II.

Read: Chapter 2
Asg 1 Ch 1 due:
Students present.
Web of Performance


18 Mar

3. Socio-technical System Design
Legitimacy Lesson slides
Example: Social bookmarks Voting

Read: Chapter 3
Asg 1 Ch 2 due

Reading: System Evaluation


25 Mar

4. Polite Computing
STS Handbook III
Lesson slides


Read: Chapter 4
Asg 1 Ch 3 due
Asg 2. Begins
: Channel email


1 April

5. The Social Environment Model
Lesson slides

Read: Chapter 5
Asg 1 Ch 4 due
Reading: Legitimate by design


8 April

STS Handbook IV

Asg 2 due
Asg 3. Begins
Reading: Generating agreement



MIDTERM 14 – 25 April



29 April

6. Rights Analysis

Read: Chapter 6
Asg 1 Ch 5 due


6 May

7. The Future

Read: Chapter 7
Asg 1 Ch 6 due


13 May

STS Handbook V

Asg 1 Ch 7 due


20 May

Student presentation(s) Asg 3

Asg 3: Presentations


27 May

Course review and final presentations

Asg 3: Hand in



Study Week June 2-6


PIS Slides Other Slides

Note: Students will not necessarily study all the papers provided, but are expected to read the papers relevant to their chosen topic area.

Plagiarism: Massey University, College of Sciences, has taken a firm stance on plagiarism and any form of cheating. Plagiarism is the copying or paraphrasing of another person’s work, whether published or unpublished, without clearly acknowledging it. It includes copying the work of other students. Plagiarism will be penalised; it is likely to lead to loss of marks for that item of assessment and may lead to an automatic failing grade for the paper and/or exclusion from enrolment at the University.


As part of your report print a cover sheet with your name, due date, submit date, title, and the following statement of academic integrity:

"I declare that this research study is entirely the product of my own work and that it has not been taken from the work of others. When the work and ideas of others have been used in the study, the work has been properly cited in the text.", and then sign it below. An electronic copy of your final report may be submitted to to evaluate the report for plagiarised content.


Grievance Procedures: A student who claims that he/she has sustained academic disadvantage as a result of the actions of a University staff member should use the University Grievance Procedures. Students, whenever practicable, should in the first instance approach the University staff member concerned. If the grievance is unresolved with the staff member concerned, the student should then contact the College of Sciences office on his/her campus for further information on the procedures, or read the procedures in the University Calendar.

Possibly Useful Links: In no particular order

HCI Encylopedia:

First Monday - Article Sources

The Social Requirements of Technical Systems

Links to socio-technical systems:

IS Theories:

Microsoft social computing:

Social Informatics and papers:

Computing and Information Technology Interactive Digital Educational Library

Information Technology Issues: 

Shirky, C. Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software. (2004)

Spolsky, J. It’s not just usability. (2004)

Vander Wal, T. Social Software Design for One. DCampSouth, Raleigh, North Carolina. (2007)

Polite computing: Cooper, A. & Reimann, R. About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Indianapolis, Wiley 2003


Academia & Internet: on and

Creative Commons , accessed 31 January 2008

Policy and the Internet

We need a new Internet?

Open journal systems,

Preprint servers

The Creative Commons

Public Library of Science:

Computing Research Repository:

CogPrints ( in the cognitive sciences

Biomedicine PubMed

Multi-media education MERLOT


BlogHUD , accessed 31 January 2008

Collating blogs




Survey Monkey

Free software The Free Software Definition - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation (FSF)


An open access paper

Computing Research Association:


Email Spam issues

Sites that invite user input, e.g. Sharkbait


Social bookmarks and tags:






Wiki for Recommender Systems at


Social networks




Electronic markets

Amazon )books)

Monster (jobs)

E bay

Craig’s list



Hardware Reviews

Electronic learning

WebCT (now Blackboard)



Blogs and Newsfeeds

Andrew Sullivan

Chinese NZ news


Browsers/email - Mozilla


Antivirus – AVG




Free storage


Flickr (photo sharing)

Online banking/investing



Active Worlds ,

Croquet ,

Harvard’s Rivercity Project , Blog ,

Maya ,

Omidyar Network ,

Second Life  ,

Second Life Profiles ,

Snapzilla ,

Techsoup ,

There ,


Better World ,

Creative Commons ,

ElvenGlen ,


ITnet - LIC - D.I.Co. – UniMi

Neualtenburg, Altenburg  


Orientation Island 1 ,, ,


Some Web Design Tips



Additional Information and Advice:


“Socio-technical” combines social theory and technical practice, e.g. theories from but not limited to the FIRST LIST below and application(s) from but not limited to the SECOND LIST:

FIRST LIST: Some Social/psychological Theory Perspectives
- Active knowledge systems
- Anthropological models
- Applied pragmatics
- Archeological and history models
- Collaborative working environments
- Communication and meaning theory
- Community informatics
- Contextual theory models
- Criminal and social justice theories
- E-business, E-government, E-politics, E-health etc. perspectives
- Educational/learning theory - Game theory
- HCI theory, human sensory processing and recognition models
- Interpersonal relationship models
- IT design models, and IT quality evaluation
- Language/action theory
- Leadership theories
- Media choice theories
- Negotiation and conflict models - Open source theories
- Organizational communication modeling
- Political models, theories of social rights and obligations
- Pragmatic web theory
- Semantic modeling
- Small group theory
- Sociological models and social philosophy
- General systems theory
- Technology appropriation theory
- Technology acceptance or social diffusion theories

SECOND LIST: Possible Technology Application Areas
-- Information Management Systems: Browsers, Search engines, ListServs, Web-crawlers, Portals
-- Human Expression Systems: Home pages, Virtual museum/art gallery,Online music publishing, Online books/journals, E-zines, Blogs, Online news
-- Interpersonal Relation Systems: Email, Internet phone (e.g. Skype),Video-phone and conferencing, Instant messages, Chat, Social networking, texting
-- Group Interaction Systems: Wikis, Bulletin boards, Group writing systems, Collaborative tools, Commenting systems, Online voting, E-governance, Online leadership, Online norms, Communities of Action, Group membership systems, Online democracy, Communities of Practice, Online multi-player games, Online cooperatives
-- Trade and Business Systems: Electronic markets, Recommender systems, Enterprise information systems, Job markets, Work flow systems, Web-bots (buyer/sellers), End-user license agreements (EULA),Online barter systems, RFID systems.
-- Health Support Systems: Diagnostic support systems, Patient record systems, Out-patient support systems, Patient empowerment systems
-- Learning Support Systems: Online learning systems, Asynchronous Learning Systems, E-learning practices, Help agents, Video teaching, FAQ's and Help-boards, Training and tutorial systems
-- Anti-social systems: Spyware, Phone-home systems, Spam, Unwanted software installs, Spoofing, Phishing, Identity theft, Hacking tools

Some references

·         Berners-Lee, T. (2000). Weaving The Web: The original design and ultimate destiny of the world wide web. New York: Harper-Collins.

·         Raymond, E. S. (1997). The Cathedral and the Bazaar.

·         Tenner, E. (1997). Why Things Bite Back. New York: Vintage Books, Random House.

·         Wheatley, K. L., & Flexner, W. A. (1991). The pitfalls of portability ... or ... Why more is not better. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 24th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

·         Lessig, L., 2000. Cyberspace's constitution, In: Lecture given at the American Academy, Berlin, Germany. .

·         Agre, P. E. (2001). Changing places: Contexts of awareness in computing. Human-Computer Interaction, 16.

·         Jones Q., Ravid G., and Rafaeli S., 2002, Mass Interaction, Information Overload and Computer Mediated Communication Tools.  Submitted to Information Systems Research.

·         Jones, Q., & Whitworth, B. (2002).

 Initial thoughts on a different kind of space: Measuring architectures and discourse coherence. Paper presented at the Computer Human Interaction Discourse Architectures Workshop, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

·         Ackerman, M. S. (2000). The intellectual challenge of CSCW: The gap between social requirements and technical feasibility. Human Computer Interaction, 15, 179-203.

·         Erickson, T., & Kellog, W. (2000). Social translucence: An approach to designing systems that support social processes. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 7(1, March), 59-83.

·         Geen, R. G., & Gange, J. J. (1983). Social facilitation: Drive theory and beyond. In A. P. V. K. M. D. H. H. Blumberg; Hare (Ed.), Small Groups and Social Interaction (Vol. 1, pp. 141-153).

·         Friedman, B., Howe, D. C., & Felten, E. (2002). Informed Consent in the Mozilla Browser: Implementing Value-Sensitive Design. Paper presented at the Hawaii International Conference on the System Sciences, Hawaii.

·         George, J. F. (1996). Computer-based monitoring: Common perceptions and empirical results. MIS Quarterly, December, 459-480.

·         Stefik, M. (1997). Trusted systems. Scientific American, March, 78.

·         Turoff, M. (1991). Computer-mediated communication requirements for group support. Journal of Organizational Computing, 1, 85-113.

·         Bales, R. F. (1950). “A set of categories for the analysis of small group interaction.” American Sociological Review, 15, 257-263.

·         Hogg, M. A. (1992). The social psychology of group cohesiveness, Harvester, Wheatsheaf.

·         Hackman, J. R. and C. Morris (1983). "Group tasks, group interaction process, and group performance effectiveness"  In: Small Groups and Social Interaction. H. H. Blumberg, A. P. Hare, V. Kent and M. Davis, John Wiley and Sons Ltd. 1: 311-345

·         Grudin, J. (1994). “Groupware and social dynamics: Eight challenges for developers.” Communications of the ACM, Jan, 37(1), 93-105.

·         Lee, A. S. (1994). “Electronic mail as a medium for rich communication: An empirical investigation using hermeneutic interpretation.” Management Information Systems Quarterly(Jun), 143-157.

·         Lea, M. (1991). “Rationalist assumptions in cross-media comparisons of computer-mediated communication.” Behaviour and Information Technology, 10(2), 153-172.

·         McGrath, J. E. (1991). “Time, interaction and performance (TIP): A theory of groups.” Small Group Research, 22

·         Nunamaker, J. F., A. R. Dennis, J. S. Valacich, D. R. Vogel and J. F. George (1991, July). “Electronic meeting systems to support group work.” Communications of the ACM, 34(7), 40-61

·         Pinsonneault, A., Barki, H., Gallupe, R. B. & Hoppen, N. (1999). Electronic Brainstorming:  The Illusion of Productivity. Information Systems Research, June, 10(2), 110-133.

·         Reid, F. J. M., V. Malinek, C. J. T. Stott and J. S. B. T. Evans (1996). “The messaging threshold in computer-mediated communication.” Ergonomics, 39(8), 1017-1037.

·         Carlson, J. R. & Zmud, R. W. (1999). Channel expansion theory and the experiential nature of media richness perceptions. Academy of Management Journal, 42(2), p153-170

·         Benbasat, I. and L. Lim (1993). “The effects of group support system on group meeting process and outcomes: A meta-analysis.” Small Group Research(Nov), 430-462.

·         Dennis, A. R. and J. S. Valacich (1999). "Rethinking Media Richness: Towards a Theory of Media Synchronicity". Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, IEEE.

·         Daft, R. L., R. H. Lengel and L. K. Trevino (1987). “Message equivocality, media selection, and manager performance: Implications for information systems.” Management Information Systems Quarterly(Sep), 354-366.

·         DeSanctis, G., M. S. Poole, G. W. Dickson and B. M. Jackson (1993). “Interpretive analysis of team use of group technologies.” Journal of Organizational Computing, 3(1), 1-29

·         Malone, T. W. (1989). Coordination Theory. Conference on Organisational Computing, Coordination, and Collaboration, Austin, Texas.

·         Postmes, T. & Spears, R. (1998). Deindividuation and antinormative behaviour: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 123(3), 1-22

·         Hoffman, L. R. & Maier, N. R. F. (1964). Valence in the adoption of solutions by problem-solving groups: concept, method and results. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69(3), 264-271.

·         Fjermestad, J. & Hiltz, R. (1999a). An assessment of group support systems experimental research: Methodology and results. Journal of Management Information Systems, 15(3), 7-149.

·         Huang, W., Wei, K. K., Watson, R. T., Lim, L. H. & Bostrom, R. (1996). Transforming a lean CMC medium into a rich one: an empirical investigation in small groups. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Information Systems(Dec), 265-276.

·         Valacich, J. S., Dennis, A. R. & Nunamaker, J. F. (1992). group size and anonymity effects on computer-mediated idea generation. Small Group Research, 23(1)(Feb), 49-73.

·         Gutek, B. A. (1990). Work group structure and information technology: A structural contingency approach. In J. Galegher, R. Kraut, & C. Egido (Eds.), Intellectual Teamwork: Social and Technical Foundations of Cooperative Work ( 63-78). Hillsdale NJ: L Erlbaum Assoc

·         Lea, M. & Spears, R. (1991). Computer-mediated communication, de-individuation and group decision making. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 34, 283-301

·         Rice, R. (1999). Artifacts and paradoxes in new media. New Media and Society, 1(1), 24-32.

·         Poundstone, W. (1992). Prisoner's Dilemma. New York: Doubleday, Anchor.

·         Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). Communication modes and task performance, The Social Psychology of Telecommunications (pp. 77-89): John Wiley and Sons

·         Panko, R. R. and S. T. Kinney (1992). "Dyadic organizational communication: Is the dyad different?". Proceedings of the 25th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Kauai, hawaii.

·         Walther, J. B. (1995). “Relational aspects of computer mediated communication: Experimental observations over time in computer-mediated interaction.” Organization Science, Mar, 6(2), 186-203.

·         Nagasundaram, M. & Wagner, G. R. (1992). Ambiguity in human communication and the design of computer-mediated communication systems. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 25th Hawaii International Conference on the System Sciences, Hawaii.

·         Gabarro, J. J. (1990). The development of working relationships. In J. G. R. K. C. Egido (Ed.), Intellectual Teamwork ( 79-110). Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

·         Adrianson, L., & Hjelmquist, E. (1999). Group processes in solving two problems: face-to-face and computer-mediated communication. Behaviour and Information Technology, 18(3), 179-198.

·         Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust. Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709-734.

·         Spears, R. and M. Lea (1992). "Social influence and the influence of the 'social' in computer-mediated communication"  In: Contexts of Computer Mediated Commmunication. M. Lea. Hemel Hampstead, Harvester Wheatsheaf: 30-65.

·         Stasser, G. and W. Titus (1985). “Pooling of unshared information in group decision making: Biased information sampling during discussion.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 1467-1478

·         Whitworth, B. and R. J. McQueen (1999). "Voting before discussing: Computer voting as social communication". Proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Hawaii, Hawaii.

·         Whitworth, B., Gallupe, B. & McQueen, R. (2001). Generating agreement in computer-mediated groups. Small Group Research, 32(5), 621-661.

·         Sia, C., Tan, C. Y. & Wei, K. K. (1996, Dec 16-18). Will distributed GSS groups make more extreme decisions? An empirical study. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Information Systems, Cleveland, Ohio

·         Weisband, S. P. (1992). Discussion and first advocacy effects in computer-mediated and face-to-face decision making groups. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 53, 352-380.

·         Roth, A.E. and X. Xing "Jumping the Gun: Imperfections and Institutions Related to the Timing of Market Transactions", American Economic Review 84 (1994), 992-1044.