Computing That Serves

Specialization, Scale, and Socio-technical Ecosystems


Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 11:00am


James D. Herbsleb
Professor, Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University


Chuck Knutson

As more and more of life moves online, we work, socialize, teach and learn, buy and sell, and live much of our lives in digital environments.  Software developers play a central role as the designers and builders of these environments.  We are only now beginning to come to grips with the varieties of specialized knowledge this task demands, and with the scale and interconnection of systems on the horizon.  In this talk, I will focus on research at CMU investigating how these forces are changing the way we organize to produce software.  Increasingly, software is produced in the context of a socio-technical ecosystem, where a variety of players compete and collaborate to create the technical building blocks for the systems we use.  Ecosystems embody complex tradeoffs we are just beginning to understand, among the technical architecture, the governance regime, the collaborative infrastructure, and business opportunities.  I will summarize what we've learned so far, and describe what I see as the big research challenges of the future.


James Herbsleb is a Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests focus on collaboration and coordination in software and systems engineering projects. His research iterates over empirical studies, theory development, and design and deployment of technology. Before accepting a position at CMU, Herbsleb led the Bell Labs Collaboratory project, focused on understanding and solving issues in geographically-distributed software development. He holds a PhD in psychology and a JD in law from the University of Nebraska, as well as a MS in computer science from the University of Michigan, where he also completed a post-doctoral fellowship.