A Pluriverse of Local Worlds

As part of the 2021 Workshop Computing within Limits, CSNI’s Marloes de Valk wrote the paper “A pluriverse of local worlds: A review of Computing within Limits related terminology and practices“. Since 2015, the LIMITS workshop investigates the role of computing in human societies affected by real-world limits (ecological and otherwise) and seeks to reshape the computing research agenda, aiming to move us closer towards computing systems that support diverse human and non-human lifeforms within thriving biospheres.

Marloes’ paper describes several small scale practices challenging the “business as usual” of Sustainable ICT; communities that aren’t part of public discourse because they are small scale, less visible, often hard to access, easily appropriated by and seemingly unable to compete with the powerful lobby of large corporations. With Big Tech having an increasingly negative impact on the environment, and simultaneously shaping the discourse on how to best tackle the climate crisis, it is important to give voice and visibility to these alternatives. There is a rich diversity of practices and views on how network infrastructures’ impact could be lowered. The paper aims to make them visible through a mapping of the different terms currently in circulation used by communities of practice, with the aim of teasing out the diverse thinking informing the infrastructures that are developed, maintained and repaired. The mapping is based on a review of relevant literature and the results from a survey conducted on Mastodon, an open source decentralized social network with a user base that includes many developers and activists working on sustainability and social justice in relation to computing. The mapping aims to celebrate differences and also show what common ground this pluriverse of small scale community practices share.

The abstract can be found at https://limits.pubpub.org/pub/jkrofglk.

image: Marloes de Valk, CC-BY-SA.