Thursday, August 30, 2007

The International Conference on Global Software Engineering

Gabriela and Anders are in Munich, attending one of the major conferences in our field - Gabriela as a speaker, Anders as student volunteer.

On Monday, the tutorials and workshops took place at the Technical University Munich in Garching ForschungsZentrum. We both attended the T4 tutorial: Seeing inside: Using social network analysis to understand patterns of collaboration and coordination in global software teams offered by Kate Ehrlich and Giuseppe Valletto (also co-organized by Mary Helander) from IBM Research.
The tutorial was interesting and attracted around 20 people. It looks like SNA is appealing to both researchers and practitioners - probably for quite a variety of reasons. While the first part of the tutorial was dedicated to the introduction of SNA basic concepts , the second was meant to show us how to extract social networks data from existing repositories like bug tracking systems, email and so on.

We had the chance to meet some of the most prominent researchers in our field (Daniela Damian, Phillipe Kruchten) and to socialize with colleagues (one of them, we discovered, was from Dublin, CA!)

A welcome reception at the Hilton City Munich followed on the same evening.

On Tuesday, instead of a keynote, there was an opening session including "two important papers"-as introduced by the organisers. Their topics - text-based communication in distributed requirements workshops and respectively the relationship between time zone separation and performance - were of great interest and therefore they were vividly discussed by the audience during the following breaks.

An Experience session, containing only papers from the industry, followed.

Before introducing the keynote speaker, Phillipe Kruchten presented some statistics: there were 100 submissions, out of which 29 were accepted; 156 participants were 60 from Germany, 22 from the US, 9 from the Netherlands, 8 from Finland, 5 from Canada, 4 from India, 3 from Japan. There were supposed to be 2 more Irish, but they didn't make it till the end.

25% of the participants were from academia, 35% from the industry, 19% came from research, 5% were consultants and 16% belonged to “other categories”. Strange enough, not a single person from this last category could be identified…

Then "Herr Professor Doktor" Erran Carmel delivered his keynote speech, "Reflections on a Decade of Studying Global Software Engineering".

A poster session followed - only 3 posters were presented, and unfortunately the Irish IBMers who were co-authors of one of them couldn't be there. Kate Ehrlich and Prof.Marilyn Tremaine had to stand next to it, explaining the work that had been done.

Sabrina Marczak from PUCRS, and a group of students from TU Munich(under the supervision of Marilyn Tremaine) were the authors of the other two.

In the afternoon, we had a session dedicated to Quality and Performance. Two very different talks. Rajesh Agarval from TCS presented the solution found by his company for motivating their developers to work as quality engineers as well. The other speaker was Timo Poikolainen from Nokia - and again, the audience had the chance to hear about successes and failures with thorough openness, as always when someone from Nokia is giving a presentation.

The session organized for students in the evening included two parts:

- In the first part, J.Sauer from Hamburg University presented the results of a survey he has undertaken on the particular difficulties of research in the GSE domain. It was interesting to listen to the student introductions – it gave you an idea of the differences between research settings in different countries.

- In the second part, Harold Ossher from IBM Watson introduced the Jazz Technology platform. Jazz is the result of a collaboration between IBM Rational and IBM Research and is attempting to build a team collaboration platform on top of the Eclipse IDE. – not yet open to the public; a few videos available. Two related research projects based on jazz were presented: one from Victoria University and the other one from University of California, Irvine.

And then the banquet, at the Ratshaus Keller. A lot of nice food and drinks, a magician going around and entertaining people, socializing and networking, and lots of fun.

On Wednesday, it was my turn (Gabriela's:), and I was extremely nervous. The session was titled Communication, and I was in very good company: Matt Bass from SEI-CMU (actually from Siemens!), and Luis Izquierdo, from the University of Victoria. Luis's paper was extremely interesting - his methods were also inspired by ethnography, and his field site very similar to ours.

I oscillated between a classical presentation and an unusual one. In the end, I couldn't resist the temptation - I went for the unusual one. I started with a warning - no figures nor tables in my presentation!

I don't know what was the impact at the conceptual level - if I managed to convince the audience how important social practices and human actors actually are in a global environment!, but probably my little SouthPark characters have made quite an impression!

On Wednesday afternoon, I had the honour of presenting to the steering committee the Lero proposal of organising ICGSE 2009 in Limerick.

Thursday, the last day of the conference, was shorter.
In the morning, the announcement was made that ICGSE 08 is going to take place in Bangalore, India, and ICGSE 09 in Limerick, Ireland.

In the first session, Michael Vax from LUXOFT delivered the keynote speech, substituting his boss who couldn't come because of visa problems.

The keynote was followed by an Experience session: Subita Sudershana from Roche Molecular Systems (very energetic talk, including stories of miscommunication with both parts speaking English!) , Viktor Clerc from VU Amsterdam, and Alexander Boden from University of Siegen.

The final session was dedicated to Processes and chaired by Daniela Damian. Alberto Avritzer from Siemens Corporate Research presented the Global Software Studio 3.0 project. Our own university was involved in the first and second year in this project, so it was interesting to see how it evolved in the next stage. Fausto Fasano spoke about an experiment on code inspection, while the final presentation (Rafael Prikladnicki from PUCRS) examined different offshoring and onshoring strategies.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Prof. Pekka Abrahamsson talk

Yesterday, myself and Gabriela went down to the LERO building here at UL to attend a talk by Prof. Pekka Abrahamsson. Pekka is at VTT in Finland and his research interests are centred on business and innovation agility, agile software production and empirical software engineering. Among other things, he is currently involved in VTT's Agile Software Technologies Research Programme and the FLEXI-ITEA2 project.

His talk here at UL had two parts: first, the talk shared unpublished results of an Idea Movement study where 50 000 mobile service ideas were collected from people of all age groups in Finland; the second part of the talk connects innovation processes and software development through agile software development models.

Two interesting topics, handled by a good (as well as very funny) speaker! One of the interesting observations from the Idea Movement project, that at least I appreciated, was that it seems like innovation achieved through interaction with the actual users on a large (huge) scale isn't technology driven but rather "idea-driven", as 95% of the ideas they received were quite possible to achieve with current technology. As Pekka put it: "the ideas that came out were framed in current technology."

Brian Fitzgerald organized the talk. He has known Pekka for many years, but his cluster project 3 group also have current connections to VTT and Pekka, since one of the research fellows, Minna Pikkarainen, is from there.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Summer guests

Today we had not one, but two guests here at UL. Both also gave talks (organised by Chris Exton in association with the CSCoP).

The first talk scheduled in the morning was Michael K├Âlling's from the University of Kent.
Titled "Greenfoot - An Interactive Platform For Introducing Programming", the talk introduced a framework Michael has developed for introducing beginning students to programming.
"Greenfoot allows starting to program with interactive graphical simulations, computer
games and other graphical scenarios. One of the main aims of Greenfoot is to create a motivating, creative, diverse entry to the learning of programming, that engages larger groups of students, including those not traditionally well represented in our degree intake.
Greenfoot uses the Java Programming Language, and was originally designed to be used as a first platform, especially at the high school level, before students then migrate to other environments. "
Michael also writes an interesting blog. What a pity Muireann was not here anymore! This could be the perfect approach for her students!

The second talk was by Alexander Troussov, the Chief Scientist of the IBM Dublin Center for Advanced Studies who initially facilitated our connection with the team we've been observing for 16 months and supported our socGSD field studies inside IBM .
The topic of the talk was "Socio-semantic computing in IBM and the EU project Nepomuk"

Alexander spoke about the launch of Lotus Connections (social software for business designed to help build social networks in the corporate environment)

According to some analysts, the release of Lotus Connections means that "the
company is serious about dominating social networking for the enterprise".

Alexander gave an introduction into the new emergent area of socio-semantic computing, and presented Galaxy -the tool for socio-semantic computing created in the IBM Dublin Software Lab, which is part of the deliverables in the FP6 project Nepomuk aiming to build a social semantic desktop (for more detail, also see Nepomuk on Bibsonomy).

(the slide belongs to a set presented at the Irish Digital Libraries Summit)
Alexander demonstrated the tool in front of the audience, showing how it manages to collect semantic information from a variety of sources.

In the afternoon, the two guests honoured us with their presence in the Interaction Design Centre, discussing their ideas and possible collaboration opportunities.