The term “informatics,” for me, connotes a wide-range of information based sciences. When I think of informatics, I think of engineering information, also processing information. But even deeper than this, informatics applies to the study and knowledge of how information is created and exchanged. In fact, the field extends to how people interact with information and how technology exerts an influence on the storing and communication of information. What informatics really does is facilitate the application of information technologies to business. This is not only a technical sphere of expertise, but a science of communication.
The way that informatics works is to exert a methodical and logical frame for information. This is done by collecting, classifying, and storing information for later retrieval. The mechanics of informatics are therefore of a varied nature and extend across a broad spectrum of applications. The reason that it is important to keep in mind that Informatics is a science and not merely as process is because the scientific aspect of informatics is truly the core of its purpose and benefit to those who use it. Obviously, one of the most common applications of informatics is in computer science. This is due to the fact that most individuals and organizations choose to both store and process information through digital means.
My initial assumptions about informatics were based in the idea that it was a purely technical “number-crunching” type of science. For me, the field of informatics was less about the collating and disseminating of information than the simply transcribing of information to a (primarily) digital record. For example, it was unlikely to occur to me that informatics had something to do with the way in which information could be shared with specific individuals or groups. If a cancer patient who is about to undergo surgery can view a three-dimensional digital image of the procedure before having the surgery it allows the communication between a doctor and patient to be much more complete and precise. Similarly, if a large undertaking of logistics must be attempted for emergency management of crisis relief, informatics can be used to help generate models for the best and most rapid response strategies.
My initial perception of informatics has changed quitter a bit through the addition of important knowledge. The two main ways in which my perception has changed relate to: viewing informatics as a much wider and encompassing science, and to viewing the application of informatics as a much more pragmatic and necessary technology. Too often, I think many people equate technology with “passivity” in that they assume technologies remove, rather than enhance, the workload of individual human operators. Informatics is not a “computer problem;” rather it is a systematic application of human rationality that is aided by computers. As such, informatics is an important field for allowing information to remain available in a valid and accessible fashion, while streamlining the usefulness of gained knowledge and ideas.
The learning process in education is in some ways an extension of informatics and the classroom, where real or virtual, is a form of information dissemination. Of course, this kind of generalization would seem to stray from the core-components of informatics as we know them in our modern age. But the fact remains that information, no less than the raw materials of the earth, is a valuable commodity that must be carefully collected, processed, and preserved for the enrichment of society as a whole. At its heart, informatics is a science that relies on rationality adn method, but whose purpose is actually much more than technical certainty. The purpose of informatics is to make information as available and meaningful as possible to as wide a number of people as can be achieved.