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The role of design thinking and physical prototyping in social software engineering

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Publication date2015
Host publicationThe 37th International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society Track (SEIS 2015)
PublisherACM Press
Number of pages10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


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.