n Mousaion - Social informatics vs community informatics : a brief overview of their origins and current status

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



The aim of this paper is to briefly examine the history of the concepts Social Informatics and Community Informatics. Research for the paper is largely based on internet resources and published works where available.

Social Informatics and Community Informatics have both become popular and well established multi-disciplinary areas of study at institutions around the world. While the popularisation of Social Informatics is largely attributed to Rob Kling and his colleagues at Indiana University in the late 1990s, Community Informatics is a more recent development that only became formalised in 2003 with the establishment of a research network. The "father" of Community Informatics is Michael Gurstein, a contemporary of Kling.
While Kling and his associates are credited with the popularisation of Social Informatics as an important area of study on the relationship between information technology and the different components of society not everyone is aware of the fact that the concept had its origins almost half a century ago in Europe. The University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, for instance, has been offering a degree in Social Informatics since 1985. A comprehensive list of references and links to Social Informatics resources and institutions around the world that offer single courses (combining methodology and informatics on a one hand and social sciences on the other, but have different names) or full degrees in Social Informatics, can be found on the university's website. (Social Informatics, Study Programs).
In South Africa, the University of Stellenbosch is currently the only institution offering a full degree program in Social Informatics through the Department of Socio-Informatics.

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