Talking Design - Co-Construction and Use of Representations in Software Development

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Yvonne Dittrich, Kari Rönkkö
Title: Talking Design - Co-Construction and Use of Representations in Software Development
Conference name: IRIS 22, 22nd Information Systems ResearchSeminar In Scandinavia
Year: 1999
Pagination: 267-280
ISBN: 951-39-0512-8
Publisher: University of Jyväskylä, Department of Computer Science and Information Systems
City: Jyväskylä, Finland
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Department of Software Engineering and Computer Science (Institutionen för programvaruteknik och datavetenskap)
Dept. of Software Engineering and Computer Science S-372 25 Ronneby
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:,
Language: English
Abstract: Software development differs from other design work insofar as the object to be designed is not visible. Representations play an important role. Even as they only describe aspects of the later software, they mediate the common design work. Software engineering literature focuses on persistent representations, documents, diagrams, mock-ups, or similar things. Our article puts 'talking design', where the software is represented in utterances, sounds, and enactment, in the centre. With the help of concepts from the CSCW discourse, we conceptualise what is happening here; the collaborative object for the design talk is not given, it has to be collectively constructed. Software development can be regarded as routine co-construction. In our case the protocol of that design meeting seemed to serve as a reminder for the participants rather than as in itself representing the design decided upon. The design meeting, we focus in this article, was part of a distributed software development project, with a larger project situated in Ronneby, Sweden and a smaller one in Oulu, Finland. If important parts of design are collectively constructed during such meetings, what does that imply for co-operation, co-ordination and division of labour in software development projects? How can a common practice be developed among distributed work groups?
Subject: Software Engineering\General
Keywords: Software Development as Work, Co-construction, Representation, Design