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Thomas Olsson

Professor, Human-Centered Design
Tampere University
phone number+358408490819
City Centre Campus

About me

Professor in Human-Centered Design (of information technology), specializing in:

Social Technology — Interaction Design — Ethics & Sustainability

My research and teaching relate to the design of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services with a critical voice, mindful of digital ethics and sustainability. I want to contribute to building a future where ICT services and socio-technical futures are imagined, built, and used with consideration of diverse values, cultures, and user groups. I'm a user-centered interaction/UI designer and a computer scientist by training and a great enthusiast of the social sciences. 

I have the great privilege of leading the Technology x Social Interaction Research group at Tampere University.

For up-to-date publications, please see my Google Scholar profile.

Responsibilities

I'm leading the "Technology x Social Interaction" research group at Tampere University, working with inspirational scholars across the sciences. I'm the Principal Investigator in Business Finland project Big Match, the PI of an internally funded Fairness in Social Matching Systems project, the co-PI in Academy of Finland project Emotions in Digital Media (EmoDiM), work package leader in ERDF project on Human-Centered AI (KITE), and involved in a number of other externally funded projects, such as Future of Remote/Hybrid Work

Teaching: I'm the responsible professor coordinating the Human-Technology Interaction studies in the Master's programme of Computing Sciences. I'm also actively involved in offering and developing the new Sustainable Digital Life Master's programme.

Concerning doctoral training, I serve as a supervisor and a planning group member in the Doctoral Programme of Humans and Technologies

I am or have been the responsible teacher for the following courses:

  • TAYJ12 Ethics of Technology
  • SDL.530 Sustainable Design
  • SDL.600 Technology-Mediated Sociality and Communication
  • HTIS85 Methods in Human-Centered Design

In addition, I'm teaching in the Introduction to Sustainable Digital Life MOOC and a Finnish basic course on information sciences (Johdatus tietojenkäsittelytieteisiin).

Thesis supervision: I'm gladly supervising masters and doctoral theses in relation to my research interests. Please see this page for further info and preliminary topic ideas.

Affiliations and memberships:

I'm affiliated with the Computing unit in the faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences, as well as the Tampere HTI community.

I have been developing my professorial expertise in the nurturing atmosphere of the New Social Research programme at Tampere University. NSR is a bold endeavor to create interdisciplinary social scientific competence relevant for the 21st century academia. 

I'm actively involved in Rajapinta, a scientific community focused on digital social sciences and interdisciplinary Internet research.

Fields of expertise

The overarching goals of my research are (1) to understand how Information and Communication Technologies shape and condition social behavior and collaboration; (2) to envision and design novel ICT prototypes that could sustainably enhance various forms of human sociality. I'm a user interface designer and a (very soft) computer scientist by training and a great enthusiast of the social sciences. The fields I mainly publish in are Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Supported Collaborative Work. I've published well over 100 scientific papers in international journals and conferences, including ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, and Communications of the ACM. I regularly serve as an Associate Chair in ACM SIGCHI flagship conferences CHI and CSCW, and I actively serve as a reviewer in journals, such as Human-Computer Interaction, Interacting with Computers, and Human-Computer Studies.

Research areas and topics (as keywords): social technologies, computer-supported cooperative work, socio-technical systems design, professional social matching, computer-mediated communication, enhancing collocated social interaction, people nearby applications, social computing, social extended reality.

(Topics I've studied in the past: mobile augmented reality, collective use of user-generated content, early online communities, haptic human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, proactive and context-aware systems, playful applications of ICT).

Technology: I'm interested in various emerging technologies, particularly People Recommender Systems, new Digital Media services, Recruitment & HR technology, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence. Rather than developing such technology, I focus on the user-centric, cultural, and societal requirements as well as designing service concepts and user interfaces.

Methodology: my research is mainly qualitative by nature, aiming to make sense of and conceptualize unexplored phenomena and gain user-centric insight into the behavioral and social effects of new ICTs. We often follow the research through design approach, critically investigating existing design conventions in an attempt to design new, more sustainable social user experiences and to encourage ethical and socially sustainable design of technological services. I've also utilized computational social science approaches like network analysis and computational analytics methods based on machine learning. 

I'm well familiar with both the Centrum and Hervanta campuses of Tampere University. Before the merger of the local universities in 2019, I was an Associate Professor at University of Tampere and before that an Adjunct Professor and Post-doctoral Researcher at Tampere University of Technology. 

Selected publications

Please see my Google Scholar profile at https://scholar.google.fi/citations?user=_4wz2YAAAAAJ

Own links