Publications

You can also find my papers on my Google Scholar profile and my Research Gate profile.

Corporate Hackathons, How and Why? A multiple case study of motivation, project proposal and selection, goal setting, coordination, and project continuation.

Published in Human-Computer Interaction Journal, 2020

Time-bounded events such as hackathons, data dives, codefests, hack-days, sprints or edit-a-thons have increasingly gained attention from practitioners and researchers. Yet there is a paucity of research on corporate hackathons, which are nearly ubiquitous and present significant organizational, cultural, and managerial challenges. To provide a comprehensive understanding of team processes and broad array of outcomes of corporate hackathons, we conducted a mixed-methods, multiple case study of five teams that participated in a large scale corporate hackathon. Two teams were “pre-existing” teams (PETs) and three were newly-formed “flash” teams (FTs). Our analysis revealed that PETs coordinated almost as if it was just another day at the office while creating innovations within the boundary of their regular work, whereas FTs adopted role-based coordination adapted to the hackathon context while creating innovations beyond the boundary of their regular work. Project sustainability depended on how much effort the team put into finding a home for their projects and whether their project was a good fit with existing products in the organization’s product portfolio. Moreover, hackathon participation had perceived positive effects on participants’ skills, careers, and social networks.

Collaborative Writing at Scale: A Case Study of Two Open-Text Projects Done on GitHub

Published in The Future of Work (HCIC'19) Workshop, 2019

Collaborative Work of all kinds is increasingly done in a networked digital environment comprised of multiple Internet-connected platforms offering varying affordances and serving communities with specific norms and values. Such an environment invites inclusive participation in collaborative production but, at the same time, challenges the roles and design of platforms traditionally used for specific kinds of work. Despite the earlier prevalence of shared editors, collaborative writing is now moving to online platforms with social networking functionality such as Wikipedia and GitHub. This study examines the evolution of digital text artifacts in a networked digital environment as revealed through a case study of two open text projects on GitHub.com – a popular social coding/software development platform. Our findings suggest that working collaboratively in a networked digital environment enables production to occur across multiple platforms as the need for this is perceived. In particular, GitHub’s pull-based model effectively manages collaborative writing at scale through sophisticated version control and lightweight review as participation and visibility of the project increases. In this pull-based model, contributors either converge at a single project to perfect its artifacts, or adopt and tailor the original project to their needs. In sum, this study highlights a new mode of collaborative writing in which GitHub and other platforms are used, conventions are adopted, and roles are established.

Collaborative Writing at Scale: A Case Study of Two Open-Text Projects Done on GitHub

Published in ACM Collective Intelligence (CI'19), 2019

Work of all kinds is increasingly done in a networked digital environment comprised of multiple Internet-connected platforms offering varying affordances and serving communities with specific norms and values. Such an environment invites inclusive participation in collaborative production but, at the same time, challenges the roles and design of platforms traditionally used for specific kinds of work. Despite the earlier prevalence of shared editors, collaborative writing is now moving to online platforms with social networking functionality such as Wikipedia and GitHub. This study examines the evolution of digital text artifacts in a networked digital environment as revealed through a case study of two open text projects on GitHub.com – a popular social coding/software development platform. Our findings suggest that GitHub’s pull-based model effectively manages collaborative writing at scale through sophisticated version control and lightweight review as participation and visibility of the project increases. In this pull-based model, contributors either converge at a single project to perfect its artifacts, or adopt and tailor the original project to their needs. In sum, this study highlights a new mode of collaborative writing in which GitHub and other platforms are used, conventions are adopted, and roles are established.

Understanding Hackathons for Science: Collaboration, Affordances, and Outcomes

Published in iConference'19, 2019

Nowadays, hackathons have become a popular way of bringing people together to engage in brief, intensive collaborative work. Despite being a brief activity, being collocated with team members and focused on a task—radical collocation—could improve collaboration of scientific software teams. Using a mixed-methods study of participants who attended two hackathons at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), we examined how hackathons can facilitate collaboration in scientific software teams which typically involve members from two different disciplines: science and software engineering. We found that hackathons created a focused interruption-free working environment in which team members were able to assess each other’s skills, focus together on a single project and leverage opportunities to exchange knowledge with other collocated participants, thereby allowing technical work to advance more efficiently. This study suggests “hacking” as a new and productive form of collaborative work in scientific software production.

Hackathons for Science, How and Why?

Published in The 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS Meeting #233), 2019

Based on our empirical studies of 14 hackathons held by a corporation (Microsoft OneWeek Hackathon), universities, and scientific communities including three hack days at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), we will present how hackathons can be designed to achieve specific goals in a semi-academic environment like STScI. Our recommendations are derived from the analysis of data collected through ethnographic observations, interviews, and questionnaires. Hackathons are not only a good way to foster innovation but also to provide learning and knowledge exchange opportunities, to create new and enhance existing social connections, to exercise new technical and leadership opportunities, and to get the needed work done or to make a quick progress on technical work. However, designing a hackathon involves careful upfront planning, project selection, team formation, goal setting, and follow-up activities. Before the hackathon, the organizers should ask potential participants to propose project ideas (e.g., highest priority needed work in the case of STScI), and elicit their skills, expertise, and project preference. The organizers should form teams by matching participants' skills to required skills for the projects. The resulting teams consist of a mix of members with varying levels of expertise. It is advisable for teams to perform preparatory work which includes appointing a team lead and having pre-event meetings where they discuss their plan for the event, break the projects into small individual tasks, assign tasks to team members, and familiarize themselves with the environment, project, and task. The organizers should advise teams to set realistic goals for the event and keep track of their progress toward these goals. At the end of the event, the organizers should advise teams to present their accomplishment and future plans, and encourage them to plan for future collaboration and designate a person to keep track of the progress. Examples include using the common free time to work side-by-side and self-organizing mini-hackathons (e.g., lunch hacks). With careful consideration of activities mentioned above, hackathons may provide a fruitful avenue of collaboration between astronomers and software experts.

The 2nd Workshop on Hacking and Making at Time-Bounded Events.

Published in Technical Report CMU-ISR-18-109, 2018

In hackathons, small teams work together over a specified period of time to complete a project of interest. Such time-bounded hackathon-style events have become increasingly popular across different domains in recent years. Collegiate hackathons, just one of the many variants of hackathons, that are supported by the largest hackathon league (https://mlh.io/) alone attract over 65,000 participants among more than 200 events each year. Variously known as data dives, codefests, hack-days, sprints, edit-a-thons, mapathons, and so on, such events vary depending on different audiences and with divergent aims: for example, whether teams know each other beforehand, whether the event is structured as a competition with prizes, whether the event is open or requires membership or invitations, and whether the desired outcome is primarily a product innovation, learning a new skill, forming a community around a cause, solving a technical problem that requires intensive focus by a group, or just having fun. Taken together, hackathons offer new opportunities and challenges for collaboration by affording explicit, predictable, time-bounded spaces for collaborative work and engaging with new audiences. With the goal of discussing opportunities and challenges surrounding hackathons of different kinds, this one-day workshop brought together researchers, experienced event organizers, and practitioners to share and discuss their practical experiences. Empirical insights from studying these events may help position the CHI community to better study, plan and design hackathon-style events as socio-technical systems that support new modes of production and collaboration.

You Hacked and Now What?: - Exploring Outcomes of a Corporate Hackathon

Published in Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction (PACM HCI, ACM CSCW'18), 2018

Time bounded events such as hackathons, data dives, codefests, hack-days, sprints or edit-a-thons have increasingly gained attention from practitioners and researchers. Existing research, however, has mainly focused on the event itself, while potential outcomes of hackathons have received limited attention. Furthermore, most research around hackathons focuses on collegiate or civic events. Research around hackathons internal to tech companies, which are nearly ubiquitous, and present significant organizational, cultural, and managerial challenges, remains scarce. In this paper we address this gap by presenting findings from a case study of five teams which participated in a large scale corporate hackathon. Most team members voiced their intentions to continue the projects their worked on during the hackathon, but those whose projects did get continued were characterized by meticulous preparation, a focus on executing a shared vision during the hackathon, extended dissemination activities afterwards and a fit to existing product lines. Such teams were led by individuals who perceived the hackathon as an opportunity to bring their idea to life and advance their careers, and who recruited teams who had a strong interest in the idea and in learning the skills necessary to contribute efficiently. Our analysis also revealed that individual team members perceived hackathon participation to have positive effects on their career parts, networks and skill development.

Collaborative Writing on GitHub: A Case Study of a Book Project

Published in Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (ACM CSCW'18), 2018

Social coding platforms such as GitHub are increasingly becoming a digital workspace for the production of non-software digital artifacts. Since GitHub offers unique features that are different from traditional ways of collaborative writing, it is interesting to investigate how GitHub features are used for writing. In this paper, we present the preliminary findings of a mixed-methods, case study of collaboration practices in a GitHub book project. We found that the use of GitHub depended on task interdependence and audience participation. GitHub's direct push method was used to coordinate both loosely- and tightly-coupled work, with the latter requiring collaborators to follow socially-accepted conventions. The pull-based method was adopted once the project was released to the public. While face-to-face and online meetings were prominent in the early phases, GitHub's issues became instrumental for communication and project management in later phases. Our findings have implications for the design of collaborative writing tools.

Designing Corporate Hackathons with a Purpose

Published in IEEE Software, 2018

In hackathons, small teams work together over a specified period of time to complete a project of interest. Hackathons have become increasingly popular as a means to surface and prototype innovative and creative ideas for products, but their impact often goes beyond product innovation. Based on our empirical studies of 10 hackathons held by scientific communities, a corporation, and universities as well as the review of published literature, we discuss that hackathons can be organized around goals such as enriching social networks, facilitating collaborative learning, and workforce development. We also discuss design choices that can scaffold the organization of hackathons and their trade-offs. Design choices include identifying a suitable mixture of attendee skills, the selection process for projects and teams, and whether to hold a competitive or collaborative event. Hackathons can achieve multiple goals if designed carefully.

An Analysis of the PEARC 2018 Science Gateways Community Institute Hackathon: Lessons Learned

Published in Practice & Experience in Advanced Research Computing Conference Series (PEARC'18), 2018

Science Gateways are web portals on which data, software, instruments, and computing resources provide users, and scientists streamlined workflows through dynamically coded frontends. These web portals allow scientist to focus on research with little to no need to utilize programmatic skills. Hackathons are time-bounded events in which collaborators intensely focus on a given subject or problem in an effort to generate solutions. Hackathon events provide opportunities for participants with diverse backgrounds, mixed specialties, and broad skill sets to interact in a manner that promotes disruptive solutions. Hackathons come in a variety of different forms and serve many different purposes. These purposes include developing resources, infrastructure, practices, and culture for a community. The Science Gateways Community Institute team proposed a hackathon to introduce students attending the PEARC 2018 conference, to the concepts of Science Gateways. The aim of the hackathon was to stimulate interest in Science Gateways while developing projects that were of value to researchers from different disciplines. They believed that PEARC would be an ideal venue for this type of event, due to the community of researchers, students, and practitioners from various disciplines that were interested and skilled in the high-performance computing field attending the conference. The Science Gateways Community Institute utilized a hackathon formatted event to provide students with an opportunity to collaborate and generate targeted skills while creating needed features for production web portals. The student participants included a group of 17 graduate and undergraduate students with predominately underrepresented minorities. The hackathon followed the PEARC 2018 conference held in Pittsburgh, PA. The science gateways targeted during the event were MyGeoHub (Purdue University), Cosmic2 (San Diego Supercomputing Center), and SimCCS (Indiana University) with associated mentors serving as subject matter experts. This poster presents organizational methods and technologies used to coordinate the international planning team, lessons learned during the event, and deliverables presented by the student teams.

The 2nd Workshop on Hacking and Making at Time-Bounded Events: Current Trends and Next Steps in Research and Event Design

Published in Extended Abstracts of the 2018 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (ACM CHI'18), 2018

Hackathons or Hackathon-style events, describe increasingly popular time-bounded intensive events across different fields and sectors. Often cited examples of hackathons include the demanding overnight competitive coding events, but there are many design variations for different audiences and with divergent aims. They offer a new form of collaboration by affording explicit, predictable, time-bounded spaces for interdependent work and engaging with new audiences. This one-day workshop will bring together researchers, experienced event organizers, and practitioners to share and discuss their practical experiences. Empirical insights from studying these events may help position the CHI community to better study, plan and design hackathon-style events and socio-technical systems that support new modes of production and collaboration.