This part of the course introduces socio-technical systems from an engineering perspective, with a particular focus on how systems engineering might be influenced by the results of a social analysis of the settings in which complex systems will be used.
Because this is a topic that is not covered in most undergraduate courses, trying to start from scratch in a short course is very difficult. Therefore, it is essential that you do some pre-reading before the course presentations (they are deliberately shorter than normal to give some time for this). The aim of this introductory reading is to give you a general introduction to socio-technical systems and related issues. As part of the course, you will be expected to make a short presentation about socio-technical systems and why understanding socio-technical systems is important in a study of Large-scale Complex IT Systems.
You should watch the following YouTube videos that I have made. These introduce the topic of sociotechnical systems and discuss important properties of these systems.
The LSCITS Handbook of Socio-technical Systems is a comprehensive summary of relevant research on sociotechnical systems with links to most of the reading that I have suggested here. Each section has an introduction that summarises the area and you should read the following topic introductions:
I have suggested 5 research papers that you should read before starting the course.
Baxter, G. and Sommerville, I. (2010). 'Socio-technical Systems: From design methods to systems engineering'. Interacting with Computers. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2010.07.003 .
Sommerville, I., Bentley, R., Rodden, T., Sawyer, P., Hughes, J., Randall, D. and Shapiro, D. 1992. ‘Ethnographically-informed systems design for air traffic control’. Proc. CSCW92., ACM Press, Toronto, 123-129.
Reason, J. 2000. Human error: Models and Management. British Medical Journal, 320, March 2000. pp 768-70.
Keen, J. 2010. Normal Accidents: learning how to learn about safety. In: M Exworthy and S Peckham (eds), Case Studies in Health Services Research. Oxford, Polity Press.
Other reading (not essential)
Sommerville, I., Bentley, R., Rodden, T., and Sawyer, P. 1992. ‘Sociologists can be Surprisingly Useful in Interactive Systems Design’, Proc. HCI'92, York, September 1992.
Hughes, J.A., Randall, D. and Shapiro, D. 1992. Faltering from Ethnography to Design. Proc. CSCW92., ACM Press, Toronto, 115-122.
A sociologist's perspective on the studies of air traffic control.
Marias, K., Dulac, N. and Leveson, N. 2004. Beyond Normal Accidents and High-Reliability Organizations: The Need for an Alternative Approach to Safety in Complex Systems. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
(List revised, October 2014)