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Scientific paper


Information technology, decoupling and networked commons - a conceptual overview

Till Westermayer

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Degrowth Conference Leipzig 2014


Abstract: Starting at the idea that information technology leads to a dematerialization of economy and thus to a decoupling between growth and material, environmental impacts and resource use, the paper discusses various concepts related to this idea, loosely following the framework of first, second and third order effects (Hilty 2008). It comes to the conclusion that information technology, especially networked information technology, helps to hide the environmental consequences happening at the far ends of systems and provisions and the integrated global economy. The hope that IT technology in itself will help to dematerialize economy seems premature. Rather than investing in this hope, the paper argues that movements which are enabled by digital technology and its specific possibilities, like the open source movement, open access, creative commons, copyleft – i.e. co-working, sharing, free access to knowledge – can be seen as seedlings for transition in form of a networked innovation of infrastructure, practices and processes (cf. Shove 2010).
Keywords: information society, dematerialization, global division of labor, infrastructure, copyleft

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