My NSF CAREER proposal

For those who are interested, here is my NSF CAREER proposal that I submitted on July 21, 2013 to the Human-Centered Computing (HCC) program in the Directorate for Computers & Information Science & Engineering (CISE).

Briefly, my proposal is to advance our understanding of how professional software developers collaborate on their actual work in their actual place of work. This is a continuation of my Collaboration in the Wild research project.

The core of my NSF CAREER proposal is to create a repository of videos of professional software developers doing their work “in the wild”, and to facilitate a community of researchers and practitioners that analyze this data and contribute their analysis metadata back into the repository. Of course, given the nature of this type of data, the participants in that community would need to agree to abide by appropriate agreements with respect to confidentiality and proprietary information of the information in the repository.

Why am I publishing this proposal, especially given that doing so appears to be unusual? Partly it is for the reasons described in Titus Brown’s blog entry on posting his grant proposals. Partly it follows from how some authors (see here and here) have used a process of sharing early and often to create a community of conversation that dramatically improves their ideas. The same process has led to open source communities, such as WIKISPEED. It also follows my general inclination toward radical transparency.

Even more importantly for me, publishing my proposal seems congruent with the core concepts of my proposal: creating a community around the analysis and evolution of data in a shared repository. If I am lucky, publishing my proposal will help uncover additional collaborations, and generate conversations that help me improve my ideas. Yes, I might be scooped. However, I am less worried about that given that:

  • I have already published the initial plan for collecting this type of data, as well as some preliminary results.
  • It is difficult to get agreements with organizations to collect and share this type of highly contextual, rich video data.
  • As of July 22, 2013, six organizations have committed to working with me to collect such data from their organizations.

However, this is an experiment and I will see what happens.

(January 2014 update. This proposal was not funded, however I am continuing to work toward the goals outlined in the proposal.)

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About davidsocha

In autumn 2010 after spending 19 years working in a variety of software organizations as a programmer, architect, manager, teacher, ScrumMaster, product designer, change agent, and agile coach, I finally listened to what everyone had been telling me I should be doing and joined the University of Washington Bothell as an Assistant Professor in Computing & Software Systems. My interests are how to create and maintain great teams, particularly those in software development organizations. I am most interested in distinctions that dramatically increase the effectiveness of teams, such as systems thinking, design thinking, biomimicry, and human centered design. I am a pragmatist, a collaborator, and an optimist.
This entry was posted in Design, Organizational development, Software, Software development, Teams. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to My NSF CAREER proposal

  1. Joe McCarthy says:

    Kudos for practicing such a radically form of scholarship!

    I recently encountered a Brainpicker post with excerpts from a book by Annie Dillard on writing that I believe is particularly relevant to the academic context:

    One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

    I hope your proposal is accepted, but regardless of the outcome, I believe your posting it here represents a contribution to a more open approach to science. Thank you.

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