What a deep green movement for the Internet of Humans would look like and which questions we should be asking to start figuring this out together.
For example - how would you/not approach the work of developing a deep green trustmark for digital tech?
I think I’d ask what the scope of the problem you’re trying to explore is - I’ll speak about IoT here, as I think web’s a slightly different story, and this is already a pretty long response.
In my experience, that once you pull at one aspect of this what you might refer to as deep green* , it’s hard not to end up in a situation where you basically end up at a conclusion like Michelle Thorne’s post, it’s capitalism, stupid.
At that point, it’s harder to make specific recommendations without us needing huge sweeping political changes.
* I assume would be some kind of more systemic way of talking about sustainability, beyond plastic straws and the like
My experiences with IoTMArk
I’ll try sharing my experiences when trying to get some understanding of climate change and environmental sustainability into the open IoTMark, which became the BetterIoT work that Alex Deschamps-Sonsino has sunk a colossal amount of work into).
I got involved back in 2012, when I was working at AMEE (an environmental data startup - Avoid Mass Extinction Engine), and I wanted to understand some of the issues around hardware. I wrote up my experiences here about the first event , and the follow up event here in 2017.
If you’re short on time though, the TLDR version is that we had a really hard time seeing how building IoT products in a environmentally responsible way, could be commercially viable in the current context because we are so used to shifting many of the costs of related to a service/product outside an organisation,
I mean - we didn’t even have a good way to capture all the bad in a single diagram or artefact, to really help us talk about which harms we wanted to mitigate first, let alone agree a some methods that smaller companies might be able to adopt, and survive. We figured it needed to be something accessible to them to be able for us to realistically propose it in the trust mark then.
Finding some stuff via Isabel’s work - MET Matrixes,and EcoCosts
Back then, I wasn’t really aware of any accessible framework to talk about the different kinds of costs incurred on humans or the environment, but through reading some of Isabel Ordonez’s work, I’ve since came across some tools like MET (material, energy toxicity) Matrixes - see the grid in that deck, that at least let you start enumerating some of these costs for industrially designed products, and give some data to inform tradeoffs you might make, and EcoCost, with some nice apps and openly licenced data you can work with.
That said, these frameworks tend to be aimed at mass producted tools or services - where you typically couldn’t change much about how you deliver a service to people after you’ve decided to ship something. Typically you’d wait to ship the next edition of the thing - before you can make changes.
This is different to the more webby, “continuous delivery” way we talk about services, which seem largely informed by how large public sector organisations might do so, rather than orgs which need to move around substantial quantities of stuff from factories, to retailers, to customers, to an end of life destination (_maybe a new factory. but more likely landfill).
What would you not try/avoid doing?
This feels a bit depressing, but I’d try asking why we still only keep referring to Fairphone as one of the only small company success stories in electronics - after 6 or 7 years. We desparately need more examples like them, but I struggle to see many.
How would you mobilise people in tech to contribute or adopt using it?
I think there are lessons to be learned from the work by Emily Webber and Doteveryone with consequence scanning - they’ve put work into designing events that fit into the way digital products are increasingly made, and I think it’s one of the more promising ideas I’ve seen of late.
That and reminding people in tech that no one else is coming, and if we want to feel better about ourselves, we need to be prepared to act ourselves, and that we have more agency than we might think. The People, Power and Technology reports from Doteveryone are particularly good for this, and they point to an appetite among workers for frameworks or things they can use at work to address the dissonance of working in tech, when so many things are clearly on fire, environmentally.
There’s also some nice stuff coming from the W3C themselves on the web front, with the Ethical Web Principles, that’s both recent, and quite accessible.
I know this is a bit of a brain dump - sorry it’s not more structured, but I’m happy to chat more about web and energy on Saturday, which I think is a slightly better situation now.