Fairweather, N.B. (2015), "Introduction to the invited paper by Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 13 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-12-2014-0064
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Introduction to the invited paper by Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Volume 13, Issue 1
As with Volume 12 and 13 of the Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society begins with an invited paper of prestigious authorship. This year again we have taken the opportunity to commission responses from a number of other leading scholars with different disciplinary (and trans-disciplinary) approaches to the same the field. We believe the topic will be of interest and inspiration. As with a year ago, as editors, we hope that the paper and responses will inspire further contributions.
For some time, Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse have been working on their technology equivalent to “Slow Food” and “Slow Cities” that they call “Slow Tech”. In doing this, they valuably identify three intertwined threads (labelled “good”, “fair” and “clean”). While the “good” and “fair” aspects have a strong affinity to a lot of papers that have appeared in this journal (and other journals dealing with the social implications of technology), the “clean” aspect has been much less well covered. Thus, Patrignani and Whitehouse give an overview of “The Clean Side of Slow Tech”. In doing so, they move the “Green Information and Communications Technology (ICT)” agenda away from the much researched, and comfortable, questions of “how to use ICT to produce environmental benefits” (or at least apparent benefits). The less comfortable questions that they ask relate to the production, disposal and the direct environmental consequences of the use of ICT. Truly Green ICT needs to address these issues as well as the more comfortable questions.
They provide us with interesting challenges.
How can we promote teaching of programming styles that result in energy-efficient use of central processing use? Equally, we might ask, how can we promote programming styles that take some of the heat out of the “upgrade treadmill?” How do we move to a situation with more modular technology, so that repair becomes easier?
Similarly, the banking crisis showed that unfettered twenty-first century capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction and needs interventions from governments to moderate the effects of the greed of the most powerful within the system. What government interventions will be most effective?
Technology is not necessarily in conflict with environmental concern, even if “business as usual” in the technology sector is. How do we change industries that have grown using the model of limited design lives and requiring customers to regularly “upgrade”?
The invited paper by Patrignani and Whitehouse and the responses to it include calls to action as well as topics that hopefully will provoke further thinking. We very much hope that further papers will be submitted (and subject to our normal reviewing process), both with that further thinking and describing research into practical actions.
N. Ben Fairweather, Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK