Social informatics' past, present and future were the focus of the 8th annual SIG/SI Research Symposium at the 2012 ASIS&T Annual Meeting, with presenters from Europe, Canada and the United States. Papers on the past of social informatics explored its roots in the early 1980s and its domain organization reflected through bibliometric analysis. Current research topics described the influence of information and communication technologies as a contextual element that shapes experience and social interaction, knowledge sharing across boundaries in online communities and studying subjectivity in Web 2.0 research collaborations through Q methodology. Presenters considered the future of social informatics in terms of the influence of information and communication technologies on the economic order, aspects of information practice that demand attention and topics and frameworks for further research. Best paper awards were given for studies on evolving digital rights and urban immigrants' information tactics. Through the symposium and interaction with other SIGs, researchers were encouraged to take a broad view of social informatics to better understand its lessons, influences and future directions.