In general, the research in the field of SI started in early 1970s, when studies about computerization have begun. In that time much of the SI research focused on organizations, because they were the centre of the computerisation process.
At the very beginning SI was trying to give some discredit into technological determinism that was dominating the field of computerization. The SI researchers were also including social point of view into computer science with simple issues like “What kind of impact has a computerization on personal privacy?” and today they are investigation more and more complex issues, for example “The ability of voters to get more complete information through online sources.”
One of the oldest formal use of the term social Informatics was at the corresponding program at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences, Slovenia. Its undergraduate program started already in 1985 and it was initially labelled as Social informatics. Program is interdisciplinary and relatively demanding, because students have to - beside s knowledge from basic discipline (i.e. sociology) - also perform courses from technological disciplines like Mathematics, Statistics, Informatics, Computer Science, and Methodology, which comprise 50% of the courses, the other part being closely related to sociology. This gives students knowledge and skills for the use of information technology and methodology for research work, for the use of statistical methods, for designing and maintaining informational systems and data basis. On the other hand students are able also to address social aspects related to information technology.
Obviously, the initial concept behind this specific program was more oriented towards the methodology and information technologies as tools to study social phenomena in general. However, in recent years the information society issues are becoming a component of growing importance at this very study programme.
A similarly early introduction can be found also in Norway, where the Ministry of Education established SI as a discipline at the University of Oslo (Report to the Norwegian Parliament, nr. 66, 1984-5, p. 171) in mid eighties.
In the U.S. the term SI is closely linked to the University of Indiana. There, we can learn about the concept of Social Informatics, introduced in 1996. The term has emerged from a series of discussions among scholars with an interest in social aspects of computerizations. Before that different labels were used for this field like: “social analysis of computing”, “social impacts of computing”, “information systems research” or “behavioural information systems research”. The term 'social informatics' was also intended to strengthen communication between specialists, and to strengthen the dialogs between communities of designers and social analysts. The concept of SI at Indiana University was thus somehow closer to initial organisational aspects of information technologies.
One of the most important pioneers in the field of SI was Rob Kling: His basic works are Introduction to Social Informatics and What is Social Informatics and Why Does It Matter?.
At the University of Indiana we can also find some earliest uses of the term of social informatics:
· Brookes, B.C. Informatics as the fundamental social science. In: Taylor, Peter J. (ed.). New Trends in Documentation and Information: Proceedings of the 39th FID Congress, University of Edinburgh, 25-28 Sept. 1978. FID Publication 566. London: ASLIB, 1980. pp. 19-29.
· Ursul, A.D. On the shaping of social informatics. International Forum on Information and Documentation. 1989 Oct; 14(4): 10-18.
· As to the scientific domain and concept of 'social informatics', it was actually defined by Stein Braten in "Dialogens vilkar i datasamfunnet" (The Conditions of the Dialogue in Information Society) in 1982.
More recently, we can observe various contexts for the use of the term social informatics. More in concept of SI.