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The ASPIC Research Program


Welcome to the website of The ASPIC Research Program: Awareness-based Support Project for Interpersonal Collaboration
This research program has existed since 2009 and the research is performed by two PHD candidates: Kevin Dullemond and Ben van Gameren.
It is supervised by Arie van Deursen and Rini van Solingen in the Software Engineering Research Group at the Delft University of Technology.
The research is performed in close cooperation with IHomer.

The ASPIC Research Program

In collaborative work it is essential to have knowledge about the context in which you are working to properly cooperate with others. With information about the context we mean information about the other members in the project team, their activities, information about the state of the project and so on. The term 'awareness' is often used to denote this. It is essential because this knowledge is necessary for coordinating actions, managing coupling, discussing tasks, anticipating others' actions, and finding help. Because of the lack of a shared physical working environment, having sufficient contextual information is more difficult in a distributed setting than in a co-located setting. We will illustrate this with an example:

Say you are a project member in a co-located project and the other members of the project team are located in the same room. When you face an issue you require help with, you turn around and look through the room. Which colleagues are present? Which colleagues seem available? Who has the skills to help you out? In a glimpse you assess the available people and decide how to ask for help (or decide not to ask). In such settings you also have unplanned informal conversations (for example at the coffee machine), you learn about the competences of your colleagues, what they are working on and how busy they are. Because of this knowledge about the status and competences of your colleagues it is much easier to assess whether it is acceptable and advantageous to approach one of them and ask for help. Now imagine the same situation, but your colleagues are working hundreds of miles away. When you face the same issue it is much harder to ask a colleague for assistance. This is because it is far harder to asses everyone's status with respect to having the time to help you. Next to this it might also be difficult to find out who has the competence you need to help you solve your issue. Furthermore, you are not sure which means of communication you should employ to contact with your colleague once and you do not really know which means of communication are at that time feasible at all. Is your colleague currently using one of these means of communication? Does this block this means of communication? Does the target prefer to use certain means of communication? In dislocated settings you simply do not have the same overview as you have in co-located setting by simply being there.

The goal of the ASPIC research program is to develop solutions to the problems caused by the difficulties with acquiring and maintaining awareness in a distributed setting. In this research the focus lies on making the sharing of information a more passive activity which in turn will likely lower the effort to share awareness information, cause this information to be more recent and improve the quality of the information as well. To do this we will first identify the information from the context of a project that is important to coordinate and integrate the activities of the members of the development team. Following this we will select those information items for which there is a lot to gain with respect to sharing awareness information in a more passive way and develop supporting technology to valorize the concept. Summarizing, we can define the following three research questions:

Communico

Communico is the first tool we developed to support sharing awareness in a distributed setting. In the case of Communico this concerns seeing what conversations others in your project team are having and offering the possibility to join these conversations. Check out the video for an introduction and the paper for a more thorough explanation.

Kevin Dullemond

Kevin Dullemond is a PhD candidate at the Delft University of Technology since October 2009. In 2004 Kevin started at the Technical University in Delft with the Bachelor Technical Informatics from which he graduated in 2007 with honors. In the Bachelor Project he did to finish the study he developed Spidre for a small company called Cope with three other students. Spidre is a web-based program which helps to standardize purchasing data. Following the Bachelor, Kevin started with the Computer Science master in 2007 and graduated with honors in 2009. In the Master project he did to finish the study he researched the advantages and challenges of the combining the agile and distributed development approaches and how technological support is best applied to deal with these. It was supervised by Rini van Solingen and Arie van Deursen. Kevin carried out this research project as a joint effort with Ben van Gameren, also one of the people he did his Bachelor project with. Also part of the research was a 'knowledge group' consisting of five Dutch Software Engineering companies: Exact Software, IHomer, Mavim, SDL Tridion and Xebia. The research group would meet up with Ben, Rini and Kevin on a monthly basis and discuss the concepts identified during the research and help develop new ideas. The research resulted in a Master thesis and a publication to the International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE) discussing a framework of technological support for Global Software Engineering (GSE). Both the publication and the Master thesis can be found on this site on the 'publications' and 'other publications' tabs respectively.

Following his graduation Kevin decided he enjoyed his cooperation with Ben van Gameren, the supervision by Rini van Solingen and Arie van Deursen and research in general and decided to continue his academic career by becoming a PhD candidate. As a PhD candidate he again works together with Ben van Gameren, who also chose to become a PhD candidate, and is supervised by Rini van Solingen and Arie van Deursen. The subject of the research which is conducted during the PhD is quite related to the research conducted during the Master project. It however takes another angle, instead of focusing on aspects of agile software development it focuses on restoring the awareness in distributed teams: the knowledge about the work-context necessary for coordinating actions, managing coupling, discussing tasks, anticipating others' actions, and finding help.

In the PhD Kevin is employed both by the TU Delft and IHomer. The main advantage of this dual-appointment is that IHomer provides a setting which is particularly suitable to carry out the research because IHomer standardized working from home often and thus they often work in a distributed fashion.publication in the proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering.

Following the master of Computer Science Ben decided to continue his academic career by becoming a PhD candidate. As a PhD candidate Ben will continue the interesting and promising line of research conducted during the Master Project. However, instead of focusing on aspects of agile software development the research will now focus on restoring the awareness in distributed teams: the knowledge about the work-context necessary for coordinating actions, managing coupling, discussing tasks, anticipating others' actions, and finding help. During this research Ben will again collaborate with Kevin Dullemond and be supervised by Rini van Solingen and Arie van Deursen.

Ben can be contacted at:

Delft University of Technology
Room HB 8.300
Mekelweg 4, 2628 CD
Delft, The Netherlands

Publications

Other documents

IHomer is a small Dutch Software Engineering company which was founded in August of 2008. Its main principles are: individuality of its employees, mutual trust between its customers and its employees, transparency of the development process and continuity, both with respect to customer relations and the products it develops. One of the prime driving forces behind supporting the principles of IHomer is working from home. IHomers work from home as much as possible and collaborate by using collaborative technologies. Therefore, IHomer is a particularly suitable setting for carrying out the ASPIC project.

Past Events

EventTitleLocationDate
Vrienden van IHomerIntroduction and progress report of the ASPIC ProjectIHomer Etten-Leur15th of December 2009
SERG Research ColloquiumASPIC: Awareness-based Support Project for Interpersonal CollaborationTechnical University Delft14th of January 2010
ICGSE 2010 Doctoral SymposiumASPIC: Awareness-based Support Project for Interpersonal Collaboration in Software EngineeringPrinceton, NJ, USA23th of August 2010
ICGSE 2010 Main ConferenceVirtual Open Conversation Spaces: Towards Improved Awareness in a GSE settingPrinceton, NJ, USA26th of August 2010
Communico Case StudyKick OffDelft20th of October 2010
CSCW 2011 Video TrackCommunico: Overhearing Conversations in a Virtual OfficeHangzhou, China22th of March 2011
ICGSE 2011 Main ConferenceEvaluating the Effectiveness of Board Game Usage to Teach GSE DynamicsHelsinki, Finland18th of August 2011
CollaborateCom 2011 Main ConferenceAn Exploratory Study on Open Conversation Spaces in Global Software EngineeringOrlando, Florida, USA16th of October 2011
CollaborateCom 2011 Main ConferenceOverhearing Conversations in Global Software Engineering - Requirements and an ImplementationOrlando, Florida, USA16th of October 2011
CHASE 2012 WorkshopSupporting Distributed Software Engineering in a Fully Distributed OrganizationZürich, Switzerland2nd of June, 2012
ICGSE 2012 Main ConferenceAn Industrial Evaluation of Technological Support for Overhearing Conversations in Global Software EngineeringPorto Alegre, Brazil28th of August 2012
Vrienden van IHomerIrisIHomer Breda18th of September 2012
CollaborateCom 2012 Main ConferenceCollaboration should become a first-class citizen in support environments for software engineersPittburg, USAOctober 14-17, 2012
CollaborateCom 2012 Main ConferenceAuto-Erecting Virtual Office WallsPittburg, USAOctober 14-17, 2012
MSR 2013 Working ConferenceFixing the ’out of sight out of mind’ problem - One Year of Mood-Based Microblogging in a Distributed Software TeamSan Fransisco, USAMay 18-19, 2013

Upcoming Events

EventTitleLocationDate
ICGSE 2013 Main Conference What Distributed Software Teams need to know and when: an Empirical Study Bari, Italy27th of August 2013
ICGSE 2013 Main Conference Auto-Erecting Virtual Office Walls A Controlled Experiment Bari, Italy29th of August 2013