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Contextual Informatics

Designing Technology for People

We research mutual relationships between computer systems and their context of development and use. The goal is to develop a theoretical framework for capturing design knowledge and integrating this knowledge with legal and societal demands for systems design. To accomplish this, we develop innovative system concepts that allow us to validate design hypotheses.

Almost all computer systems embody a variety of assumptions about human behavior which become manifested in the modeling process. This starts with recording access data, continues with usability and accessibility issues all the way up to application specific control and administration processes which interfere with human activities. With the deployment of those systems, users start changing their behavior which formed the basis for the modeling process – mutual relation­ships occur, new requirements emerge and lead to the revision of the software.

The “Contextual Informatics” workgroup studies such mutual relationships with the aim to identify the consequences relevant for computer science. This comprises the analysis of the impact of different design alternatives as well as the collecting of demands for computer science in general and in particular the requirements for the design of systems.