A colleague from Switzerland wrote: "Reading your blog I realized that I'm already doing social informatics. Can you give me some advice, how to become an expert in social informatics?" (own translation)
Like in any other area it is a trio:
- do it
- learn it
- promote it
Social Informatics builds upon two main areas: sociological and technical aspects. For a more detailed description and definition see the blog of 20 Jun 2019.
It depends whether you come more from the sociological or the technical area. You will focus on your topic and bear in mind the other themes. For instance, if you are an organization developer, a (project) manager or have similar responsibilities and you have a degree in business administration, psychology, sociology, philosophy or organization development itself, you may first ask (and answer) the question "How does technology deal with people?" and then "How do people handle technology?" If you are a computer scientist, usability and technical aspects such as system implementation, data security and privacy may be the core of your work.
Both the "sociological" and the "technical" experts in social informatics work together and with people on information technology, they use in their daily life and thus in their daily work. The experts aim "to support by research and development the design, implementation and maintenance of information systems for the benefit of individuals, groups and society, so that those, who develop, build, sell and maintain these systems, tailor technology to people and not inverse." (Blog 20 Jun 2019)
Similar to doing it, you have to build a profound theoretical fundament. If you come from a technical background you will deepen your knowledge in sociological aspects by studying literature from organization development et cetera, for instance the book serial "Catch the moose" (currently only in German "Elche fangen …") or other authors like Peter Senge, Tom DeMarco, Edgar Schein, Donald Schön, Frédéric Laloux, David Cooperrider. See for an inspiration the reference lists on Organization Development and on Social Informatics. Of course also people who have already a sociological background should stay up to date.
In addition you should attend seminars, workshops or a study course in these areas. Veränderung Gestalten Lernen … Learn Create Change contains some examples.
For the technical aspects have a look at the respective literature, education programs and professional associations.
In German the terms social informatics or "Sozioinformatik" are not widely known. Computer scientists speak about "Informatik und Gesellschaft", information technology and society. So, speak about Social Informatics / Sozioinformatik: in your daily work, during face-to-face dialogues, on conferences and in digital social media. Write about it: in blogs, forums, articles, books. And: teach it. As a freelance lecturer for companies or at universities or as school teacher or professor at a university. It is satisfying and you learn a lot about your topic, if you have to explain it and work with learners. During summer 2017 and winter 2017/2018 I wrote in the blog section Social Informatics about my experience on teaching future "technical" experts and their inspiring performance. See the blog entries containing " Sozioinformatik" and "Workshop".
I wish you as (future) experts in social informatics joy, inspiration and a satisfying work.
Christa Weßel - 01 Jul 2019