What in the World is Informatics?

Posted by John Buerck

I often get the question, “What is informatics?” The academic definition follows:

Informatics is the multidimensional use of technology to support knowledge discovery and dissemination, assisting the decision maker across a variety of academic disciplines and professional fields. It incorporates the way data is collected, organized, analyzed, represented, filtered and managed. The figure below graphically presents the process that informatics uses to combine the interaction of technology with the human and organizational structures to support knowledge discovery, management and dissemination.

A better layman’s definition is that informatics is all about taking data and turning it into something people can use. Technology – and the growth of technology is the main enabler of informatics applications.

If you are interested in learning about the growth of informatics, take a look at a book called “The Fourth Paradigm.” The book was inspired by the work of Jim Grey and is freely available.
The book introduces the concept of a “Data Scientist.” What an idea!

Opening Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono

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