Ban Al-Ani

University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, United States

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Publications (38)4.75 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Trust is generally considered a key element of effective and productive distributed team collaborations. In this paper, we report the results of our investigation into the factors that engender trust in Global Systems Engineering (GSE) teams in five multinational organizations. We extend our previous work by conducting a new field study focused solely on factors that engender trust and identify the implications of these factors. Our work provides significant contributions to practitioners, researchers and tool developers. Managers working in study field sites have confirmed that our findings will be used to inform future team management strategies. Our results can also be used to structure and guide future research in this field, as it identifies gaps in existing literature. Finally, our findings can be used to inform the development of future tools that aim to support collaborative work in general and GSE teams specifically.
    Proceedings of the 2013 IEEE 8th International Conference on Global Software Engineering; 08/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Trust remains a challenge in globally distributed development teams. In order to investigate how trust plays out in this context, we conducted a qualitative study of 5 multi-national IT organizations. We interviewed 58 individuals across 10 countries and made two principal findings. First, study participants described trust in terms of their expectations of their colleagues. These expectations fell into one of three dimensions: that socially correct behavior will persist, that team members possess technical competency, and that individuals will demonstrate concern for others. Second, our study participants described trust as a dynamic process, with phases including formation, dissolution, adjustment and restoration. We provide new insights into these dimensions and phases of trust within distributed teams which extend existing literature. Our study also provides guidelines on effective practices within distributed teams in addition to providing implications for the extension of software engineering and collaboration tools.
    Proceedings of the 2013 conference on Computer supported cooperative work; 02/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Context In Global Systems Engineering teams, researchers have found that trust can be transitive to some degree or imported (swift trust) under certain conditions. We argue that trust can be contagion and seeded by tools (spread from one individual to another through tools). Objective We sought to investigate the potential for using tools to support the development of trust in such teams and facilitate contagion trust. Specifically, we sought to investigate whether any existing tools support the development of trust in such teams and which information helps such development, whether the visualization of past collaborations would help developing trust, and what tools or features practitioners would wish for, if they had a magic wand. Method We interviewed 71 employees from five multinational organizations. We focused on gaining an understanding of the tools that are currently used to engender trust and the information needed to facilitate contagion, in which conditions visualizations of past collaborations are helpful, and what software tool features could help develop trust. Our analysis was guided by grounded theory. Results We found evidence that supports the theory of contagion trust and tools can be used to initiate the development of trust. These tools include software tools, office technologies, or organizational structures. Practitioners’ needs were functional (e.g. audio channel with remote colleagues) and/or non-functional (e.g. can be adopted in sites with poor infrastructure). Conclusion Our study illustrates that tools can be used to facilitate contagion trust and provides three main contributions. First, our exploration of how existing tools are used provides a guide to effective practices in such teams. Second, the descriptions of features that can facilitate contagion trust provide useful design implications for future tools. Third, the identification of the kind of information that facilitates contagion trust provides an understanding of practitioners’ underlying needs that can be used to develop collaboration tools.
    Information and Software Technology 01/2013; · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We sought to understand the role that Web 2.0 technologies play in supporting the development of trust in globally distributed development teams. We found the use of Web 2.0 technologies to be minimal, with less than 25% of our participants reporting using them and many reporting the disadvantages of adopting them. In response, we sought to understand the factors that led to the use and non-use of these technologies in distributed development teams. We adopted a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze data collected from 61 interviewees representing all common roles in systems development. We discovered six factors that influenced the use and non-use of Web 2.0 technology. We present a proclivity model to frame our findings as well as our conclusions about the interrelationships between the results of our qualitative and quantitative analyses. We also present implications for the design of collaboration tools, which could lead to greater support and usage by distributed developers.
    Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE Seventh International Conference on Global Software Engineering; 08/2012
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    Amy Voida, Ellie Harmon, Ban Al-Ani
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a qualitative study of the use of social computing technologies by volunteer coordinators at nonprofit organizations. The work of volunteer coordinators is bridge-building work—bringing together numerous public constituencies as well as constituencies within their organizations. One might expect this class of work to be well supported by social software, some of which has been found to enable bridging social capital. However, we find that, in many ways, this class of technology fails to adequately support volunteer coordinators' bridge-building work. We discuss a number of strategies for bridge-building via social computing technologies, numerous challenges faced by volunteer coordinators in their use of these technologies, and opportunities for designing social software to better support bridge-building between organizations and the public.
    05/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Collaboration tools support global software engineering (GSE) by providing relevant information and work context to developers, essentially seeking to provide a local context for developers working globally. Although many collaborative tools have been developed, we have insufficient knowledge of how they are used in practice. In this paper, we review the recent empirical studies on collaboration tools for GSE. Then we theorize a conceptual framework that aims to explain how the unique contextual dimensions of GSE (e.g. culture diversity and adaptation, etc.) influence practitioners' attitudes toward, and usage of, the tools. The conceptual framework will guide our future empirical studies, and it will be refined by the empirical evidence collected in these studies.
    01/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we investigate the role blogs played within the context of the Egyptian revolution of early 2011 using blog data authored between 2004-2011. We conducted topic modeling analysis to gain a longitudinal view of the interaction of societal, personal and revolutionary blog topics over this period. Furthermore, a qualitative analysis of blog posts during the period that bracketed the political uprising revealed Egyptian bloggers' concerns. Reporting events and supplying commentary provided bloggers with a means to voice dissent against institutionalized power represented by the government-controlled media. In short, blogs reveal a counter-narrative to the government-supplied version of events in Egypt during the 18-day uprising. These narratives offer rich documentation of how blogs, and perhaps social media more generally, can be utilized by individuals operating under repressive conditions.
    CSCW '12 Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Seattle, WA, USA, February 11-15, 2012; 01/2012
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    ABSTRACT: Disaster-related research in human-centered computing has typically focused on the shorter-term, emergency period of a disaster event, whereas effects of some crises are long-term, lasting years. Social media archived on the Internet provides researchers the opportunity to examine societal reactions to a disaster over time. In this paper we examine how blogs written during a protracted conflict might reflect a collective view of the event. The sheer amount of data originating from the Internet about a significant event poses a challenge to researchers; we employ topic modeling and pronoun analysis as methods to analyze such large-scale data. First, we discovered that blog war topics temporally tracked the actual, measurable violence in the society suggesting that blog content can be an indicator of the health or state of the affected population. We also found that people exhibited a collective identity when they blogged about war, as evidenced by a higher use of first-person plural pronouns compared to blogging on other topics. Blogging about daily life decreased as violence in the society increased; when violence waned, there was a resurgence of daily life topics, potentially illustrating how a society returns to normalcy.
    CSCW '12 Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Seattle, WA, USA, February 11-15, 2012; 01/2012
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    ABSTRACT: Trust can be defined in terms of one party's expectations of another, and the former's willingness to be vulnerable based on those expectations. Surprise results from a failure to meet expectations, which can influence trust. We conducted an empirical study of surprises stemming from cultural differences in distributed teams and their influence on trust. Our study findings provide two primary contributions. First, we find that trust judgments in culturally diverse teams are made from accumulated experiences that involve a sequence of cultural surprise, attribution, formulation of new expectations, and the application of adaptations in new situations. Second, we document adaptations that individuals develop to avoid future surprises and which ultimately helped them to improve their sense of trust towards others. In general, our findings contribute to the existing body of work by providing evidence of how people attribute specific cultural surprises, the impact on their sense of trust and adaptations.
    01/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Person-to-person knowledge sharing is considered a key aspect of any effective collaboration. Many studies have investigated what motivates team members to share knowledge, but few have explored the role trust plays in knowledge seeking and acceptance. We conducted an empirical field study to investigate trust in distributed teams and its influence on knowledge seeking and acceptance practices in a Fortune 500 organization. Our main objective in this study was to investigate what factors determine who will be sought when knowledge is needed, and what the criteria are for knowledge acceptance in person-to-person knowledge sharing. Study findings provide a substantial understanding of knowledge-seeking practices, knowledge-acceptance needs, and the role trust plays in these practices and needs. In this paper, we discuss these findings and their implications on future tool support.
    Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2011 6th IEEE International Conference on; 09/2011
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated how trust among software developers would be affected by providing them with visualizations of collaborative traces. We define collaborative traces to be representations of the past and current activity of a group of developers manipulating software development artifacts. In this paper, we report two main findings. First, we report the results of our controlled experiment in which collaborative traces were visualized. Second, we present an overview of tools which aim to represent collaborative software engineering traces. Our experiment provides evidence that collaborative traces can support the development of several factors of trust identified in our field study. However, we also identified some shortcomings of our current visualizations, gaining insights into future improvements. From our review of tools that represent collaborative traces, we observed that such representations can drive the design of tools that aim to support trust. We also present a table of tools; the table can be used to guide discussion and the design of tools that promote trust in software development.
    01/2011;
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    Amy Voida, Ellie Harmon, Ban Al-Ani
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    ABSTRACT: Many people manage a complex assortment of digital information in their lives. Volunteer coordinators at nonprofit organizations are no exception; they collectively manage information about millions of volunteers every year. Yet current information management systems are insufficient for their needs. In this paper, we present results of a qualitative study of the information management practices of volunteer coordinators. We identify the resource constraints and the diverse and fluid information needs, stakeholders, and work contexts that motivate their information management strategies. We characterize the assemblages of information systems that volunteer coordinators have created to satisfice their needs as 'homebrew databases.' Finally, we identify additional information management challenges that result from the use of these 'homebrew databases,' highlighting deficiencies in the appropriateness and usability of databases and information management systems, more generally.
    Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada, May 7-12, 2011; 01/2011
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    ABSTRACT: Technological hubris occurs when attempts are made to develop technological solutions for marginalized groups. Despite being impoverished, these groups constitute the bulk of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) users. Developers all too often assume these peripheral, marginalized groups have the same needs as people in the core, developed countries and engineer technologies accordingly. Likewise, software engineers typically use the same approaches to elicit requirements and develop technologies for such groups. Both these tactics run the risk of disregarding the true needs of such users by not taking their environment, social order, or influences of either into account. Our position is that developers must reconsider current, widely adopted requirements engineering approaches when developing ICT for marginalized groups. We advocate embracing alternative techniques from the social sciences, here considering two such techniques, namely cultural probes and storytelling. We explore how these techniques can be adapted for software requirements.
    Proceedings of the Workshop on Future of Software Engineering Research, FoSER 2010, at the 18th ACM SIGSOFT International Symposium on Foundations of Software Engineering, 2010, Santa Fe, NM, USA, November 7-11, 2010; 01/2010
  • B. Al-Ani, D. Redmiles
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    ABSTRACT: In this article we report on our investigation of trust in distributed development teams and the role that software tools can play in supporting teams. Our investigation shows that the continuous coordination paradigm tools Palantir, Ariadne, World View, and Workspace Activity Viewer help distributed teams develop trust by sharing information across boundaries through visualizations and in other ways. Our analysis provides insights into the role existing tools can play in developing trust and how future tools can promote trust.
    IEEE Software 01/2010; · 1.62 Impact Factor
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    Ban Al-Ani, Gloria Mark, Bryan Semaan
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    ABSTRACT: Social media enables the creation of online communities across physical boundaries. Blogs, or weblogs, enable bloggers to interact with a range of followers. We sought to conduct a qualitative study of the nature of the interactions that emerge in a blog community whose members are experiencing the impacts of ongoing conflict. We chose the Iraqi blogging community as a case study and focused on investigating the role of intercultural interactions in shaping people's experiences during conflict. We found that intercultural interactions aided people by providing support, finding commonality, building a knowledge base, and in giving advice on restoring infrastructure. The intercultural interactions provided alternative views of an event constructed from diverse cultural perspectives. We found that the intercultural interactions we observed suggest a degree of intercultural competency within the blogosphere.
    01/2010;
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    Ban Al-Ani, Gloria Mark, Bryan Semaan
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    ABSTRACT: The blogosphere is changing how people experience war and conflict. We conducted an analysis of 125 blogs written by Iraqi citizens experiencing extreme disruption in their country. We used Hoffman's [8] stages of recovery model to understand how blogs support people in a region where conflict is occurring. We found that blogs create a safe virtual environment where people could interact, free of the violence in the physical environment and of the strict social norms of their changing society in wartime. Second, blogs enable a large network of global support through their interactive and personal nature. Third, blogs enable people experiencing a conflict to engage in dialogue with people outside their borders to discuss their situation. We discuss how blogs enable people to collaboratively interpret conflict through communities of interest and discussion with those who comment. We discuss how technology can better support blog use in a global environment.
    Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2010, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10-15, 2010; 01/2010
  • Ban Al-Ani
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge is considered a key asset in most organizations. Ineffective knowledge engineering and management practices can lead to disastrous outcomes. This paper aims to raise questions regarding knowledge within distributed software engineering teams through two perspectives. First, some examples of ineffective practices will be discussed and used to reflect on the possible causes which contributed to the disastrous outcomes. These examples are used to determine gaps in knowledge engineering practices. Second, tools our research team has developed are used as case studies of alternative approaches to knowledge management. Regarding knowledge through both these perspectives highlights the need to articulate social and cultural knowledge. These perspectives also raise questions regarding knowledge management and engineering.
    5th IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering, ICGSE 2010, Princeton, NJ, USA, 23-26 August, 2010; 01/2010
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter discusses a set of co-ordination tools (the Continuous Co-ordination (CC) tool suite that includes Ariadne, Workspace Activity Viewer (WAV), Lighthouse, Palantír, and YANCEES) and details of our evaluation framework for these tools. Specifically, we discuss how we assessed the usefulness and the usability of these tools within the context of a predefined evaluation framework called DESMETDESMET . For example, for visualization tools we evaluated the suitability of the level of abstraction and the mode of displaying information of each tool. Whereas for an infrastructure tool we evaluate the effort required to implement co-ordination tools based on the given tool. We conclude with pointers on factors to consider when evaluating co-ordination tools in general.
    Collaborative Software Engineering. 01/2010;
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    B. Al-Ani, D. Redmiles
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    ABSTRACT: Trust has long been a contentious issue in human endeavours. It is not readily given nor gained, more so when strangers are involved. It often becomes an issue during distributed development where individuals are expected to interact with strangers they may not ldquomeetrdquo during the project lifetime. Trust was spontaneously raised by respondents in an empirical study of practices within distributed development and is reported in this paper. A qualitative analysis of study data suggests that trust typically becomes an issue in large teams when developers are to deliver an innovative product. We also found that it is more likely to be an issue the greater the diversity (of culture, language, time zone...etc.) within the team. Finally the data also suggests that developers more readily trust an authoritative team member (e.g. team leader), even if remote. Data suggests these factors can act as positive and negative forces to influence trust within distributed teams. These forces are reported in this paper together with proposed approaches that can promote equilibrium of the net forces.
    Global Software Engineering, 2009. ICGSE 2009. Fourth IEEE International Conference on; 08/2009