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Ecscw 2007 workshop position paper on handovers


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Position paper for a workshop at ECSCW 2007 on effective handovers

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Ecscw 2007 workshop position paper on handovers

  1. 1. ECSCW Workshop Position Paper -- Handover: Collaboration for Continuity of Work Toward a Pattern Language for Effective Handovers John C. Thomas IBM T. J. Watson Research Center PO Box 218 Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 USAA Handover Story: Danny H. was one of our most fun but problematic child psychiatricpatients. He had a severe case of Type 1 diabetes and had successfully learned to use thisas a “lever” to manipulate his parents. One day in the hospital, he posted a high bloodsugar level right before lunch. Therefore, his insulin dosage for his pre-lunch injectionwas calculated to be correspondingly high. Instead of eating however, once inside thelunchroom, he threw a tantrum and fought an intense physical struggle with staff. Hewas eventually escorted to the “quiet room” and wrapped in a calming mattress. A nursewas assigned to watch him and I explained the situation to her; that he had just had a verylarge insulin dose and instead of his anticipated lunch, he had eaten nothing and insteadhad engaged in vigorous physical activity; therefore, she needed to watch him closely.My own duty was back in the lunchroom but after a few minutes, I decided to leave tocheck on Danny. The nurse said, “Oh, he’s fine. He went right to sleep.” In fact, ofcourse, he was in insulin shock. Luckily, we quickly administered some instant glucoseand he recovered. Later, we discovered that this nurse was almost completely deaf andhad developed a clever set of social habits to give the impression that she understoodwhat people were telling her while actually hearing almost nothing. ..Position: Socio-technical Pattern Languages. A Pattern is a named recurring problemand the essence of its solution. A Pattern Language is a lattice of inter-related patternsthat together cover a domain. Pattern Languages have been suggested for physicalarchitecture, object-oriented programming, management, human-computer interactionand socio-technical systems. I propose a number of socio-technical patterns related tosuccessful handovers based on mechanisms that have developed in a number of domainssuch as sports, oral traditions, and storytelling. In particular, the metaphor of a“handover” itself may be problematic as it may suggest a tripartite temporal segmentationof responsibility: 1. Person A is responsible; 2. Transition from A to B; 3. Person B isresponsible. In some domains, more holistic and complex responsibility threads are usedto help make handovers more likely to be successful.Background: My current work at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center relates to theusability and usefulness of tools in the high performance computing arena. Relevanthandovers include those between software tools and the programmers the tools are meantto support; between domain experts such as meteorologists and parallel programmingexperts; and between system administrators and programmers. Handovers, in ametaphorical sense, are also a crucial part of the complexity and challenge of parallelprogramming itself.
  2. 2. Prior to this, I developed the user experience for an e-learning system which allows usersto specify goals, types of materials, time constraints, and background. Based on theseinputs as well as an ontology and metadata associated with each Learning Object, acustomized sequence of learning materials is proposed. Handover issues here includedthose between our development team and end-users as well as between our developmentteam and other teams to provide content; between authors and derived learning objectsand between subject matter experts who provided the metadata and the learning objects.Empirical lab work and field trials show this to be a useful and usable tool. Other workfocused on developing tools, techniques, and representations to support the capture,creation, analysis, organization, finding and use of stories and scenarios. Thesetechniques have continued to prove useful in subsequent projects. I received a Ph.D. inpsychology from the University of Michigan in 1971 and managed a research project inthe psychology of aging at Harvard Medical School. I then joined IBM Research andconducted research in various areas of human computer interaction including querylanguages, natural language processing, design problem solving, audio systems, andspeech synthesis. In 1986, I began the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at NYNEXScience and Technology. I was active in the formation of ACMs Special Interest Groupin Computer Human Interaction and have served in various capacities including generalco-chair of the CHI conference in 1991. I have co-chaired various workshops on Human-Computer Interaction Patterns and Socio-Technical Patterns since 1997 at CHI, CSCW,and Interact. I’ve also taught at a variety of institutions of higher education includingcourses in cognitive psychology, problem solving and creativity, the psychology of aging,storytelling, and human factors in information systems.References:Thomas, J. C., Kellogg, W.A., and Erickson, T. (2001) The Knowledge Managementpuzzle: Human and social factors in knowledge management. IBM Systems Journal,40(4), 863-884. Available on-line at, J. C. (2001). An HCI Agenda for the Next Millennium: Emergent GlobalIntelligence. In R. Earnshaw, R. Guedj, A. van Dam, and J. Vince (Eds.), Frontiers ofhuman-centered computing, online communities, and virtual environments. London:Springer-Verlag.Thomas, J.C. (1980). The computer as an active communication medium. Invited paper,Association for Computational Linguistics, Philadelphia, June 1980. Proceedings of the18th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics., pp. 83-86.Malhotra, A., Thomas, J.C. and Miller, L. (1980). Cognitive processes in design.International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 12, pp. 119-140.Thomas, J.C. (1978). A design-interpretation analysis of natural English. InternationalJournal of Man-Machine Studies, 10, pp. 651-668.Thomas, J.C. and Carroll, J. (1978). The psychological study of design. Design Studies, 1(1), pp. 5-11.