Thomas Olsson

Associate Professor, New Social Research
Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences
| Sub unit: Computing Sciences

About me

Design of Sustainable Social Technology

My research and teaching relate to the design of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services with a critical perspective, particularly mindful of digital ethics and sustainability. I want to contribute to building a future where digital technology is envisioned, built, and used with consideration of diverse values, cultures, and user groups — mindful of alternative sociotechnical futures. I'm a user-centered software 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.


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, co-PI in Academy of Finland project EmoDiM, work package leader in ERDF project KITE, and involved in a number of other externally funded projects, such as Fast Teams at LUT. 

Teaching: I'm the course responsible for HTIS85 Methods on Human-Centered Design and TAYJ12 Ethics of Technology. In the near future, I will be building new courses on "Sustainable Design" and "Technology-Enhanced Sociality" for the new Sustainable Digital Life Master's programme.

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


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. 

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

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 ICTs 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. My main fields are Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Supported Collaborative Work. I've published over 100 scientific papers in international journals and conferences, including ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, and Communications of the ACM. I actively serve as a reviewer in journals, such as Human-Computer Interaction, Interacting with Computers, and Human-Computer Studies.

Research topics: relevant keywords include social technologies, computer-supported cooperative work, professional social matching, computer-mediated communication, enhancing collocated social interaction, people nearby applications, social computing, social extended reality.

(Topics 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 Social Media services, 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. By critically approaching existing design conventions, I aim to design new social user experiences and 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, I was an Associate Professor at University of Tampere and before that an Adjunct Professor and Post-doctoral Researcher at Tampere University of Technology.