Social informatics research pertains to information technology developments and uses in any social setting, not just organizations. Social informatics researchers are especially interested in developing reliable knowledge about information technology and social change based on systematic empirical research, in order to inform both public policy issues and professional practice.


Our concepts and analyses provide increased understanding of the design, use, conŽ guration and/or consequences of ICTs so that they are actually workable for people and can fulŽll their intended functions. This careful contextual and empirically grounded analysis contrasts with high-spirited but largely a priori promotions of technologies that may occasionally work well for some people and may occasionally be valuable, but are sometimes abandoned or unusable, and thus incur needless waste and inspire misplaced hopes. In this article I have discussed a variety of ICTs, including local government information systems, computer networks, electronic journals, and the Internet.

I described two exemplary cases in which ICT professionals and managers relying on the standard Tool Model devised systems that were underused relative to their expectations or potentials. These are not just isolated examples, but rather, represent a widespread phenomenon. Various studies 40 have shown that utilization of the conventional Tool Model can result in considerable losses of various kinds (e.g. money, time, productivity, efŽ ciency).

However, because many of these losses occur ‘behind closed doors’ they may be unseen by the general public. Indeed, even those who observe them may not be fully appreciative of their scope and depth, being unaware of the extent to which other groups suffer similarly, or the degree to which things could have been different.


How a Wholesale Club Reflects Social Behavioral Trends