What is Informatics?

Many people wonder what is informatics, and define differently. It is often referred to a narrower discipline "medical informatics" or "biomedical informatics." But what we meant by Informatics when we designed our CSI ISI program in 2013-15, we had the following wider interdisciplinary concepts in mind, which we think are well captured in The Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing [1]:

  • Informatics is Computing in context. Harnessing the power and possibility of technology, informatics turns data and information into knowledge that people can use every day.
  • Informatics is “the study and application of information technology to the arts, science and professions, and to its use in organizations and society at large.” Informatics students build new computing tools and applications. They study how people interact with information technology. They study how information technology shapes our relationships, our organizations, and our world.
  • Informatics uses computing to solve the big problems: privacy, security, healthcare, education, poverty, and challenges in our environment. All Informatics applications are computer-based. Those applications are enhanced with tools and techniques from fields such as communication, mathematics, multimedia, and human-computer interaction design. Informatics differs from computer science and computer engineering because of its strong focus on the human use of computing.
  • The impact of Informatics can be every field, health, science, the interactive media and art, businesses, communities, Human computing interactions, etc.
  • Informatics create knowledge, bridge the gap and impact the future , using information and technology.

This begs a question on the distinction between data science and informatics.
Data science is defined as the "extraction of knowledge from large volumes of data that are structured or unstructured," or "The ability to take data - to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it." The core competencies of data science are statistics, especially machine learning; data-oriented computer programming, especially of querying databases; domain understanding where the analysis and interpretation will be applied; business processes; and communications.

However, Informatics goes beyond the knowledge extraction and communication for value propositions or decision support. Informatics concerns other sociotechnical issues, e.g. adoptions, usability, safety, societal impacts, standards, challenging "people and organizational issues." Thus, data science is viewed as the subset of informatics. [2]

[1] Read details in the source article.
[2] What is the Difference (If Any) Between Informatics and Data Science?