Dr. Ole Pütz
Dr. Ole Pütz studied Sociology at Bielefeld University, Göteborg Universitetet, and the University of Notre Dame. He received his PhD in 2016 from Bielefeld University for an award winning study on strategic planning in social movement groups. Ole Pütz has worked as a lecturer for qualitative methods and in the university administration before joining the Semantic Computing Group in October 2017. He has recently received a grant to devise an interdisciplinary research project that combines sociology and computer science.
Projekt: CEPIEC: The Co-Evolution of Projects and Indexical Expressions in Computing
The CEPIEC project intends to investigate how teams of software engineers and computer scientists (designers) carry out projects of software design. Their work is understood as a cyclical process that unfolds over time. CEPIEC asks how designers manage problems that arise during projects both by discussing a problem and potential solutions with others in face-to-face interaction and by implementing solutions in programming code, and how a solution may lead to new problems and problem-oriented discussions. The assumption is that discussions about a project (in natural language) and working on a computer program (in programming language) co-evolve over the course of a project: The “indexical expressions” (Garfinkel 1967) used to talk about a problem and potential solutions shape the technical approach to that problem and its potential solutions, while possibilities and limitations of technologies in turn shape how problem and solutions are discussed by those involved in a project. The perspective employed by CEPIEC is both situational and trans-situational; the process of co-evolution can be observed situationally during a meeting or other face-to-face interactions but also over time as a project develops. CEPIEC uses an ethnographic approach to study software projects. Segments of code, sketches, presentations, and project documentation are collected as data. Additionally, CEPIEC relies on audiovisual recordings of meetings in order to capture indexical expressions and the sequential context of their use. CEPIEC focuses on projects in the field of computing because discussions about a project (in natural language) and working on a computer program (in programming language) each follow a different and potentially contradictory logic. According to ethnomethodology, what we say to others using natural language remains vague in many ways and we rely on both context and the progression of the interaction to make sense of the expressions others employ, without ever arriving at a point of absolute clarity (this is the logic of indexicality). This is true for the requirements of a project of software design as well that are articulated or expressed in natural language. Computer programs, however, which are designed to fulfill those requirements require specific and explicit instructions in order to operate. In order to achieve this, the written code of a computer program has to be explicit as well (this is the logic of explicitness). In other words, things that can remain implicit when talking about a project of software design must be made explicit when writing a computer program, using the restricted vocabulary of a programming language.