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Encyclopedia > Social informatics

Social informatics is the study of information and communication tools in the context of culturology, or in the context of a specific institution. An interdisciplinary field, (Sawyer & Rosenbaum, 2000, p. 90) social informatics is part of a larger body of socio-economic research that examines the ways in which technology and groups within society are shaped by social forces within organizations, politics, economics and culture. (Williams & Edge, 1996, section 2, para. 3). Some proponents of social informatics use the relationship of a biological community to its environment as an analogy for the relationship of tools to people who use them. The Center for Social Informatics founded by the late Dr. Rob Kling, an early champion of the field’s ideas, defines the field thusly: Categories: Information technology ... Look up Culture on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikinews has news related to this article: Culture and entertainment Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Cultural Development in Antiquity Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Culture and Civilization in Modern Times Classificatory system for cultures and civilizations, by Dr. Sam Vaknin... Institutions are organizations, or mechanisms of social structure, governing the behavior of two or more individuals. ... Main articles: Life All organisms (viruses not included) consist of cells, which in turn, are based on a common carbon-based biochemistry. ... A community is an amalgamation of living things that share an environment. ... An analogy is a comparison between two different things, in order to highlight some form of similarity. ...

Social Informatics (SI) refers to the body of research and study that examines social aspects of computerization – including the roles of information technology in social and organizational change, the uses of information technologies in social contexts, and the ways that the social organization of information technologies is influenced by social forces and social practices. [1]

Historically, social informatics research has been strong in the Scandinavian countries, the UK and Northern Europe (Williams & Edge, 1996, section 1; Sawyer & Rosenbaum, 2000, p. 93). Within North America, the field is represented largely through independent research efforts at a number of diverse institutions (Saywer & Rosenbaum, p. 93).


Social informatics research diverges from earlier, deterministic models for measuring the social impacts of technology. Such models characterized information technologies as tools to be installed and used with a pre-determined set of impacts on society dictated by the technology’s stated capabilities (Williams & Edge, 1996, section 2, para. 2). By contrast, social informatics methodologies consider the context surrounding technological implementation to be equally important: the people who will interact with a system, the organizational policies governing work practice, and support resources. This contextual inquiry produces “nuanced conceptual understanding” of systems that can be used to examine issues like access to technology, electronic forms of communication, and large-scale networks (Kling, 2000).


Research in social informatics can be categorized into three orientations (Sawyer & Rosenbaum, 2000, p. 90). Normative research focuses on the development of theories based on empirical analysis that may be used to develop organizational policies and work practices (Kling, 2000, p.228). The heart of such analyses lies in socio-technical interaction networks (Kling, 2000, p. 219), a framework built around the idea that humans and the technologies they build are “co-constitutive”, bound together, and that any examination of one must necessarily consider the other. Studies of the analytical orientation develop theory or define methodologies to contribute to theorizing in institutional settings (Kling, 2000, p. 229, note 1). Critical analysis, like Lucy Suchman’s examination of articulation work (1994), examine technological solutions from non-traditional perspectives in order to influence design and implementation (Kling, 200, p. 229, note 1; Sawyer & Rosenbaum, 2000, p. 90).


The future of social informatics as a distinct discipline is not clear. Williams and Edge suggest that the amorphous boundaries between humans and technology that emerge in social shaping technology research indicate that technology is not a distinct social endeavor worthy of individual study (1996, section 6, para. 5). This observation, coupled with the many fields that contribute research, suggest a future in which social informatics theories and concepts settle to form a substrate, an “indispensable analytical foundation” (Kling, 2000, p. 229) for work in other disciplines.


See also

Community Informatics, also known as community networking, electronic community networking, or community technology refers to an emerging set of principles and practices concerned with the use of Information and Communications Technologies for personal, social, cultural or econonomic development within communities, for enabling the achievement of collaboratively determined community goals and... An informaticist is a professional whose primary occupation involves the manipulation of information and communication technologies. ...

References

  • "Demistifying the Digital Divide: The simple binary notion of technology haves and have-nots doesn't quite compute", an article by Mark Warschauer on page forty-five of the August, 2003 issue of Scientific American
  • Center for Social Informatics – SLIS – Indiana University – Mission (n.d). Retrieved October 18, 2004 from http://www.slis.indiana.edu/CSI/mission.html
  • Kling, R. (2000). Learning about information technologies and social change: The contribution of social informatics. The Information Society, 16(3), 217-232.
  • Sawyer, S. and Rosenbaum, H. (2000). Social informatics in the information sciences: Current activities and emerging directions. [Electronic Version] Informing Science. 3 (2), 89-95 available at http://www.inform.nu/Articles/Vol3/v3n2p89-96r.pdf
  • Suchman, L. (1994). Supporting articulation work: Aspects of a feminist practice of office technology production. In R. Kling (Ed.), Computerization and Controversy (pp. 407-423). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Williams, R., & Edge, D. (1996). The social shaping of technology. Research Policy, 25, 865-899. Retrieved September 1, 2004 from http://www.rcss.ed.ac.uk/technology/SSTRPfull.doc
Associate Professor in the Department of Education and Department of Informatics at the University of California, Mark Warschauer is well known for his contributions about the Digital Divide, specially in the approach of access to Information and Communications Technology and digital literacy. ... 2003(MMIII) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Scientific American is one of the oldest and most serious popular-science magazines. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Social informatics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (818 words)
Social informatics is the study of information and communication tools in cultural, or institutional (Kling, Rosenbaum, and Sawyer, 2005).
Social Informatics (SI) refers to the body of research and study that examines social aspects of computerization – including the roles of information technology in social and organizational change, the uses of information technologies in social contexts, and the ways that the social organization of information technologies is influenced by social forces and social practices.
Social informatics research diverges from earlier, deterministic (both social and technological) models for measuring the social impacts of technology.
Informatics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (728 words)
Informatics is the discipline of science which investigates the structure and properties (not specific content) of scientific information, as well as the regularities of scientific information activity, its theory, history, methodology and organization.
In this sense, informatics can be considered as encompassing computer science, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, information science and related fields, and as extending the scope of computer science to encompass computation in natural, as well as engineered, computational systems.
At the Indiana University School of Informatics, informatics is defined as "the art, science and human dimensions of information technology" and "the study, application, and social consequences of technology." These definitions are widely accepted in the United States, and differ from British usage in omitting the study of natural computation.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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