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 and the ways that the social organization of information technologies are influenced by social forces and social practices. SI includes studies and other analyses that are labeled as social impacts of computing, social analysis of computing, studies of computer-mediate communication (CMC), information policy, “computers and society,” organizational informatics, interpretive informatics, and so on. SI studies and courses are organized within diverse fields, including information science, information systems, anthropology, computer science, communications, sociology, political science, and science and technology studies (STS).
While focused on the field of information science due to its ASIS&T parentage, SIG SI welcomes scholars from all fields, serving as a common meeting ground for presenting social informatics research and networking with other researchers. SI as a field and SIG SI as an organization serve as banners and pointers for those who are interested in contributing to these studies and to lead and attract scholars and researchers to appropriate theories, approaches, key ideas, studies, findings, books, articles, and courses of study.
More details on and about social informatics can be found through the following resources:
- The Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics at Indiana University includes a useful discussion of the history of the term “social informatics” and links to foundational documents and early writings in the field.
- Kling’s article “What is Social Informatics and Why Does It Matter?”, published in D-Lib Magazine in 1999, serves as a useful entry piece to the field.
- Three more recent reviews of social informatics also serve as appropriate entry points for students and scholars in information science. Two are journal articles: Sawyer and Eschenfelder’s 2002 chapter on “Social Informatics: Perspectives, Examples, and Trends“ from the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology; and Sawyer and Tapia’s The Information Society article from 2007 titled “From Findings to Theories: Institutionalizing Social Informatics”. Fichman and Rosenbaum’s 2014 edited volume on Social Informatics: Past, Present, and Future (with many chapters beginning as contributions to SIG SI symposiums) also serves as a useful and more recent review of the field; Rosenbaum’s Chapter 1 (“The Past: Social Informatics as a Scientific and Intellectual Movement”) and Sanfillipo and Fichman’s Chapter 2 (“The Evolution of Social Informatics Research (1984-2013): Challenges and Opportunities”) in particular provide context for students and scholars.
The following groups, organizations, and Web sites also cover social informatics and areas related and cognate to it:
- The Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics at Indiana University
- The Consortium for the Science of Sociotechnical Systems (CSST)
- The “Researchers of the Socio-Technical” Facebook group (associated with CSST)
- Gurstein’s Community Informatics blog
- The student-run Social Informatics Blog