Philosophy of Science & Technology

What is Socio-Technical Design?

10-node-plotTom Erickson, in his introduction to one of the sections in the forthcoming Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems, explains socio-technical design well:

Socio-technical design is not just about designing things, it is about designing things that participate in complex systems that have both social and technical aspects. Furthermore, these systems and the activities they support are distributed across time and space. One consequence of this is that the systems that are the sites for which we are designing are in constant flux. And even if we were to ignore the flux, the distributed nature of the systems means that they surface in different contexts, and are used by different people for different (and sometimes conflicting) purposes.”

Socio-technical design is, understandably, related to sociotechnology. There is much work to be done to develop the processes and techniques that will be required to manage quality and continuous improvement in the context of socio-technical design!

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