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 UW MSR Institute 2007
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2007 Summer Institute on the Human Side of Software Development, co-sponsored by the University of Washington and Microsoft Research.

The meeting will be held at the Skamania Lodge (www.skamania.com) in Stevenson, WA, in the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, from August 12 to August 17, 2007. The Lodge is easily accessible to the Portland Airport (roughly 45 minutes) and is located 3.5 hours southeast of Seattle, WA.

Each summer, the University of Washington and Microsoft Research jointly host a workshop on a cross-disciplinary topic to bring together researchers who share a common interest but would not likely meet one another in their normal travels. You can find a description of past summer institutes at: http://www.cs.washington.edu/mssi/. This year’s workshop focuses on software development as a human activity for individuals, teams and organizations. The workshop will bring together roughly 50 participants from academia, industry and government who bring perspectives from diverse disciplines, including software engineering, human-computer interaction, computer-supported collaborative work, psychology, and organizational behavior. Because existing research in this area is so wide-spread, our main goal is community building. We hope this workshop will form a large step toward establishing this problem area as an established field of research. The meeting will include presentations, including keynotes from each field, panels and breakout sessions, with planned flexibility to allow us to tailor to the participants’ goals.


While the technical aspects of software development have enjoyed enormous research attention (programming languages and methods, software verification and validation, formal methods), the human side of software development has gotten only sporadic attention, spread across many forums. This human side includes issues like:

  • knowledge acquisition and management,
  • expertise, team newcomers and “onboarding,”
  • attention, interruption and working “in the flow,”
  • communication and social networks, and
  • measuring individual and team performance.

While these issues are prevalent among many types of knowledge workers, development teams are particularly good subjects for exploring these issues because of their diversity, the economics of their work, and their willingness to adopt technical treatments like new tools and methods.

We are pleased to announce the keynote speakers for the event:

Overview Janice Singer, Research Officer, National Research Council Canada
Software Engineering Jim Herbsleb, Associate Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
Human Computer Interaction Mary Czerwinski, Research Area Manager, Microsoft Research
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work Judy and Gary Olson, Professors, University of Michigan
Organizational Behavior Stephen Barley, Director, Center for Work, Technology, and Organization; Stanford University

Topics for discussion will likely include:

  • the big open problems of this research area,
  • the various development paradigms to study (classic “waterfall”, open source, Agile methods),
  • the variety of research methods to use, including their benefits, costs and limits,
  • the challenges of academia/industry collaboration.

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[comments to Kay Beck-Benton]