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Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Kathrin Otrel-Cass

The purpose of this article is to provide a commentary to the conceptual article by Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse, The Clean Side of Slow Tech. This article…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to provide a commentary to the conceptual article by Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse, The Clean Side of Slow Tech. This article explores what can be easily overlooked in Information Communication Technology (ICT): the uncomfortable truth relating to the production, use and disposal of modern communication technology.

Design/methodology/approach

In it, the author picks up on the main ideas that were argued, specifically that there is a need to take a closer look at the production, use and disposal of modern communication technology.

Findings

Connecting resource production, use and disposal and its affect on climate change will require those who are in the position to make changes to come up with solutions that also consider values, beliefs and norms that lead to particular types of behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

ICT has had an enormous impact on people’s lives. However, there has been primarily focus on its life-accelerating attributes. Slowing down the process of production may open up possibilities for sustainable ICT development.

Practical implications

The commentary, combined with Patrignani and Whitehouse’s paper may provide a resource for those responsible in training future ICT professionals.

Social implications

If today’s society, and this includes users and producers of ICT, intends to go beyond the mere rhetoric about sustainability, individuals will need to take on a new kind of responsibility that covers the entire life cycle of technology.

Originality/value

This commentary is intended to provide an additional viewpoint to the topic of sustainable ICT production.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2015

Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse

The purpose of this paper is to examine how Slow Tech can support the celebration of the 20-year series of ETHICOMP conferences, with its ethical and societal focus…

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1167

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how Slow Tech can support the celebration of the 20-year series of ETHICOMP conferences, with its ethical and societal focus, building on earlier descriptions of Slow Tech. The paper takes Slow Tech’s ideas a step further to explore how a roadmap and concrete checklist of activities can be developed.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a thought leadership or conceptual piece. Its approach is based on a normative, qualitative discourse. It, nevertheless, indicates a shift towards concrete actions.

Findings

Extracting from a brief historical overview, the paper lays out the means of building a Slow Tech roadmap and a Slow Tech checklist of actions. It also investigates a number of the challenges that might face Slow Tech in the future.

Research limitations/implications

The paper has implications for stakeholder fields as far-ranging as corporations, computing professional associations, universities and research institutions and end-users.

Originality/value

As with other investigations of Slow Tech, the value of this paper is in its call for reflection followed by action. It provides a useful complement and counterbalance to an earlier paper by the same authors: “Slow Tech: a quest for good, clean and fair ICT” published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society (Vol. 12, issue 2, pp. 78-92).

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Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 13 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2015

Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse

This discussion paper focuses on a notion of information and communication technology (ICT) that is good, clean and fair that the authors call Slow Tech. The purpose of…

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2242

Abstract

Purpose

This discussion paper focuses on a notion of information and communication technology (ICT) that is good, clean and fair that the authors call Slow Tech. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Slow Tech approach in order to explain how to create a suitable bridge between business ethics and computer ethics.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper’s approach is discursive. It provides a viewpoint. Its arguments are based in an examination of literature relevant to both business ethics and computer ethics. Justification is produced for the use of Slow Tech approach. A number of potential future research and application issues still to be investigated are also provided.

Findings

Slow Tech can be proposed, and used, as a bridging mechanism between companies’ strategies regarding computer ethics and business ethics. Three case studies illustrate the kind of challenges that companies have to tackle when trying to implement Slow Tech in concrete business context. Further study need to be undertaken to make progress on Slow Tech in applied, corporate settings.

Practical implications

ICT companies need to look for innovative, new approaches to producing, selling and recycling their services and products. A Slow Tech approach can provide such insights.

Social implications

Today’s challenges to the production and use of good, clean, and fair ICT, both conceptual and concrete, can act as incentives for action: they can further applied research or encourage social activism. Encouraging the study, and the application, of Slow Tech provides a first step in the potential improvement of a society in which information technology is totally embedded.

Originality/value

The value of this paper in not only for academics and researchers, but also for practitioners: especially for personnel working in ICT companies and for those involved with designing, developing and applying codes of conduct at both European and globally.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2015

Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse

This paper aims to provide an overview of clean information and communication technology (ICT), including a brief review of recent developments in the field and a lengthy…

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1054

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide an overview of clean information and communication technology (ICT), including a brief review of recent developments in the field and a lengthy set of possible reading matter. The need to rethink the impact of ICTs on people’s lives and the survival of the planet is beginning to be addressed by a Slow Tech approach. Among Slow Tech’s main questions are these two: Is ICT sustainable in the long term? What should be done by computer ethics scholars, computer professionals, policy makers and society in general to ensure that clean ICT can be produced, used and appropriately disposed of?

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a comprehensive review of clean tech-related literature and an investigation of progress made in the clean tech field.

Findings

This opening paper of a Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society special session aims to provide an overview of clean ICT, including a brief review of recent developments in the field and a lengthy set of possible reading matter. As a result, it is anticipated that Slow Tech – and in this case, its second component of clean ICT – can provide a compass to steer research, development and the use and reuse of environmentally friendly, sustainable ICT.

Originality/value

This conceptual paper emphasises that, until only recently, no one questioned the potential long-term sustainability of ICT. This issue is, however, now very much a matter that is on the research and teaching, and action, agenda.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 13 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2015

Thomas Taro Lennerfors, Per Fors and Jolanda van Rooijen

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of information and communication technology (ICT) for promoting environmental sustainability in a changing society…

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1716

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of information and communication technology (ICT) for promoting environmental sustainability in a changing society. Isolated studies exist, but few take a holistic view. Derived from a Marxian tradition, the authors propose Ecological World Systems Theory (WST) as a holistic framework to assess the environmental impact of ICT. The theory is adapted responding to theoretical critiques of absence of change, namely state-centrism and structuralism.

Design/methodology/approach

Theoretical study. Empirical examples derived from already published literature.

Findings

Ecological WST focuses on the unequal distribution of environmental degradation, sees technological development as a zero-sum game rather than cornucopia and holds that technology is often seen as a fetish in today ' s society. The findings are that popular discourses on ICT and sustainability are since the 1990s becoming increasingly cornucopian, while conditions in the ICT value chain are less cornucopian.

Research limitations/implications

Theoretical contributions to Marxian critiques of ICT, with more environmental focus than earlier Marxian critiques, for example Fuchs’ work. Develop a theoretical framework for ICT and sustainability which could be compared with works of e.g. Hilty, Patrignani and Whitehouse. The work is mostly based on existing empirical studies, which is a limitation.

Practical implications

This theoretical framework implies that unequal environmental degradation in different parts of the world should be taken into account when assessing environmental impact, for example by means of LCA.

Social implications

The framework brings together questions of environmental effects of ICT and global justice.

Originality/value

The authors apply a rarely discussed theoretical framework to ICT and environmental sustainability. By doing this the authors suggest how the discourses and the value chain of ICT is intrinsically tied to the world system.

Details

Information Technology & People, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2014

Norberto Patrignani and Diane Whitehouse

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the term Slow Tech as a way of describing information and communication technology (ICT) that is good, clean and fair. These are…

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1278

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the term Slow Tech as a way of describing information and communication technology (ICT) that is good, clean and fair. These are technologies that are human centred, environmentally sustainable and socially desirable.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper's approach is based on a qualitative discourse that justifies the introduction of Slow Tech as a new design paradigm.

Findings

The limits of the human body, and the need to take into account human wellbeing, the limits of the planet and stakeholders' interests in decision making, all suggest the need for a new paradigm, Slow Tech, in the design of ICT and ICT systems. Three scenarios are described as case studies.

Practical implications

In order to prepare the next generation of researchers and computer professionals, many different actions need to be taken. Universities and colleges need to redesign education programmes for computer scientists and engineers by introducing subjects related to the social and ethical implications of computing (currently, only few countries, like the UK, have already done this), and computer professionals' associations need to introduce a code of ethics or ethical analysis into their members' career development. As a result, future computer professionals who are familiar with the Slow Tech approach will be able to collaborate much more easily across the kind of cross disciplinary teams suited to design human centred, sustainable and desirable technologies.

Social implications

Rather than simply focusing on the role of computer professionals, all members of society are called to play a new role in the design of future ICT scenarios. Starting a societal dialogue that involves computer professionals, users, researchers, designers, ICT industrialists, and policy makers is very much needed.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is in its call for reflection followed by action. Based on an holistic approach to the design of new ICT systems, the paper advocates a new starting point for systems design: it should be based on a long-term view of the desirability and social importance of technologies, their environmental impact and sustainability, and the fairness and equity of the conditions of workers involved in the computing manufacturing processes.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

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Article
Publication date: 10 August 2015

Bernd Carsten Stahl and Charles M Ess

The purpose of this paper is to give an introduction to the special issue by providing background on the ETHICOMP conference series and a discussion of its role in the…

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233

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to give an introduction to the special issue by providing background on the ETHICOMP conference series and a discussion of its role in the academic debate on ethics and computing. It provides the context that influenced the launch of the conference series and highlights its unique features. Finally, it provides an overview of the papers in the special issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper combines an historical account of ETHICOMP and a review of the existing papers.

Findings

ETHICOMP is one of the well-established conference series (alongside IACAP and CEPE) focused on ethical issues of information and computing. Its special features include: multidisciplinary and diversity of contributors and contributions; explicit outreach to professionals whose work is to design, build, deploy and maintain specific computing applications in the world at large; creation of knowledge that is accessible and relevant across fields and disciplines; intention of making a practical difference to development, use and policy of computing principles and artefacts; and creation of an inclusive, supportive and nurturing community across traditional knowledge silos.

Originality/value

The paper is the first one to explicitly define the nature of ETHICOMP which is an important building block in the future development of the conference series and will contribute to the further self-definition of the ETHICOMP community.

Details

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, vol. 13 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-996X

Keywords

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