Monday, May 24, 2004

Informatics in Indiana

Many universities try to integrate information technology into many different disciplines usually through their computer science departments. Our neighbors to the east are creating a bold experiment in this integration, the Indiana University School of Informatics, with fastly growing departments spread over several of their campuses.

What is informatics? According to Indiana, Informatics is

  • understanding the impact technology has on people.
  • the development of new uses for technology.
  • the application of information technology in the context of another field.
Their research groups already encompass quite a few areas including biological, chemical and social issues of information technology.

I visited the Informatics department in Bloomington a few months ago and sensed an excitement of growing a new discipline and bringing in many information technology researchers from different scientific disciplines. Note the real distinction between computer science that studies and improves the nature of computation and and informatics that aims for integration of information technology between various areas of study.

Mixing researchers from vastly different disciplines has had its shares of successes and failures and only time will tell how successful the Indiana experiment will become. But I'm extremely impressed with the commitment from the University and the state to this area of informatics and I expect we'll hear much more from Indiana in this area.

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