Menu Close

Research Profile: The Traces Project

Dan Suthers, Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Interactive Learning Technologies, discusses the Traces Project.

What is the problem that Traces is trying to solve?

Communication and information technologies are rapidly becoming integral to daily life around the globe, enabling new forms of social systems and extending the scope of existing ones across time and space. These socio-technical systems range from informal networks of people to virtual organizations. To more effectively support virtual organizations with emerging technologies, new analytic tools are needed to understand how technological designs encourage transformative interactions between people.

How is it doing that?

TestASOKeynote06071911The Traces project is developing a three-layered solution, the Traces framework, which consists of a theoretical foundation for analysis, a data model, and software tools to trace out the movements, confluences, and transformations of people and ideas in online social networks. This project is focusing on online social networks that support the professional development of students and educators. Thus, the results of this research will enhance the infrastructure for virtual learning organizations. We are presently analyzing historical activity in SRI’s Tapped In network of educators.

Who is working on Traces?

The Traces project is supported by a $380,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s VOSS program (Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems, Office of Cyberinfrastructure), via a grant awarded to Dan Suthers (Principal Investigator, Dept. of ICS) and Devan Rosen (Co-Principal Investigator, formerly in the Dept. of Communicology) under the title “Traces–Understanding Distributed Socio-Technical Systems”. The grant began on November 1, 2009 and runs for a period of three years. The National Science Foundation’s award information for this grant may be found at The project funded graduate student Kar-Hai Chu, who recently was awarded his Ph.D. on related research in Communication and Information Sciences. Several other students have also assisted with various aspects of the project.

For more information:

Suthers, D. D. (2011). Interaction, mediation, and ties: An analytic hierarchy for socio-technical systems. Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on the System Sciences (HICSS-44), January 4-7, 2011, Kauai, Hawai‘i.