The role of design thinking and physical prototyping in Social Software Engineering

Peter Newman, Maria Angela Ferrario, Will Simm, Stephen Forshaw, Adrian Friday, Jon Whittle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Social Software Engineering (Social SE), that is SE aiming to promote positive social change, is a rapidly emerging area. Here, software and digital artefacts are seen as tools for social change, rather than end products or 'solutions'. Moreover, Social SE requires a sustained buy-in from a range of stakeholders and end-users working in partnership with multidisciplinary software development teams often at a distance. This context poses new challenges to software engineering: it requires both an agile approach for handling uncertainties in the software development process, and the application of participatory, creative design processes to bridge the knowledge asymmetries and the geographical distances in the partnership. This paper argues for the role of design thinking in Social SE and highlights its implications for software engineering in general. It does so by reporting on the contributions that design thinking - and in particular physical design - has brought to (1) the problem space definition, (2) user requirements capture and (3) system feature design of a renewable energy forecasting system developed in partnership with a remote Scottish Island community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2015 IEEE/ACM 37th IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering, ICSE 2015
EditorsGerardo Canfora, Sebastian Elbaum
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781479919345
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2015 - Florence, Italy
Duration: 16 May 201524 May 2015
Conference number: 37th (Proceedings)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Software Engineering 2015
Abbreviated titleICSE 2015
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