Sustainability, social accountability, and computing: a workshop

 Event Reports, Workshops  Comments Off on Sustainability, social accountability, and computing: a workshop
Jun 232013

With the support of IFIP Working Group 9.9 on ICT and sustainable development, Working Group 9.2 held a well-attended workshop on Saturday 16 February, 2013 at ETH’s Main Building in Zurich, Switzerland. It followed the very successful ICT4S conference

Among the 20 people attending the workshop, attendees came from Australia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Korea, the Netherlands, Sweden, the USA, and the host country, Switzerland.

Among the speakers were Don Gotterbarn, De Montfort University (UK); Iordanis Kavathatzoupoulos and Ryoko Asai, Uppsala University (Sweden); Patricia Lago, VU (Netherlands); Giovanna Sissa, Universita degli Studi di Milano (Italy); and Diane Whitehouse, Chair IFIP WG9.2 social accountability and computing.

Important messages from the workshop were the need to bring sustainability and environmental topics together with a critical framework for assessing sustainability in a more societal or social way. The diversity of the different disciplines represented, and the potential for cross-disciplinarity research and action was also striking.

On summarising, the attendees emphasised three core topics of future interest to them: change and transformation; philosophy and ethics; and technology.

Change and transformation

  • How can we change products, solutions, and legislation?
  • Openness, engagement, and potential for transformation.
  • ICT products, rebound effects and Jevons’ paradox.

Philosophy, ethics, and the work of designers and engineers

  • Engineers, ethics, and sustainability.
  • Framing awareness, concerns, and ethics.
  • Long-term issues.
  • Reflecting on how society is speeding up; “sometimes we need to slow down”.


  • ICT and its unexpected consequences and outcomes; the value of the unexpected.
  • Tools for stakeholders to use to further sustainability in terms of ICT.
  • The web and its complexity.

Talk Downloads

Patrignani_It’s not your father’s computing

Lago_An Online Library

Kavathatzopoulos_IT security and sustainability

Whitehouse_European Group on Ethics

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Digital Futures: what future for ICT in 2050?

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Jun 142013

Do you think about the future? What do you visualise? How do you see technologies developing in the future? What kind of society will we live in?

These were the kinds of questions posed on Friday 28 September 2012, at a short envisioning exercise was held at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Fifteen people attended the session. All came from IT backgrounds. Yet they all also had a deep concern for ICT, society, and ethical challenges. Their origins were continents and countries as widespread as Africa, Australia, the USA, and Europe (Belgium, Finland, Sweden, the UK).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_4

People’s concerns were both utopian and dystopian. While there was hope, there was also a lot of anxiety about the near future and the further future of humankind. Oftentimes, the good was counterbalanced by the threatening. Briefly, concerns included: “Will being part of an artificial intelligence-based global network in an era of instant communications, ‘growing up Google’ from birth, drive what it is to be human?” “What will it mean to have smart cities, pod cars, and renewable energy if we entirely lose sight of what it is to be human?” On the other hand, it was feasible to see the option of: “Having choice! And anticipating a big ‘anti-digital movement’.”

After a first round of priority-setting, the attendees self-selected to join three discussion groups. The three foci were: control (Group 1); education, research, and the planet (Group 2); and the loss of human contact (Group 3).

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_3

Led by Kai Kimppa of Turku University, Finland, the first group was interested in the challenges of control, both technological and societal. The discussants covered circumstances pertinent to information security and privacy, as wide-ranging as cities, food, energy, sustainability, and values. Many of their concerns were serious and profound. Yet, among the more creative ideas, was the notion, 30 years from now, of being able – à la fictional hero, Harry Potter – to have a “personal cloaking device”, to wear like a chador, so as not to be visible at all times.

Based on the inputs from this group, a draft vision snapshot was written later which began: “In 2050 we are all born digital, RFID chips and body implants were placed under our skin after birth in the hospitals. Identity cards will not be needed as information is stored ‘inside’ us. At a global level, we are concerned about better security and the right to ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ anytime from the digital world. […]”

Participants at Digital Futures workshop

Facilitated by Magda Hercheui of Westminster University, UK, Group 2 focused on education, research, and the planet. In this group, there was a real sense of a desire for people to align themselves better as individuals and collectively, and with the planet. The group desired to remain open to dreams and desires, particularly for human well-being and for planetary well-being.

The third group, which worked on the loss of human contact, was animated by Renier van Heerden of  CSIR, South Africa. Here, group members spoke of the potential for the loss of human contact between cliques, groups, and generations. They also explored the differences between the real and the virtual: “Who we are as human beings, what is human warmth, and what might it be like to lose contact with ourselves in a more virtual world?” Notions such as dangerisation were also raised.

These discussions encourage ways of looking towards a vision of 2050, as well as to consider the policies and trends of the more immediate years until 2020 and 2030. Like the Long Now Foundation,[1] they create ideas for living not in the year 2013 but in 02013 (i.e., starting to count out time using five digits, not four)!

Participants at Digital Futures workshop_2

The final feedback on the session was positive. The attendees enjoyed discussing and working together, forming a sense of civic intelligence.[2] They found the interactivity exciting and stimulating. It was fun to fantasise with people, knowing that humankind has already been on a 50,000 or 60,000-year or more journey together. Interesting, technology was far from being the main focus of the discussions: humanity, social relations, and ethics really came to the fore.

This workshop took place at the end of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee’s 9’s (IT and Society) Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10). It was facilitated by Ms Bernadett Koteles-Degrendele of the European Commission’s DG Connect and Ms Diane Whitehouse, Chair, IFIP working group 9.2 social accountability and computing. These Digital Futures workshops continue regularly, organised by the European Commission in conjunction with many other organisations. All those interested are absolutely invited to join in, and to build the future together! Much can already be done directly online. More information is available at: and its Futurium

[1] Long Now Foundation (accessed 10 June 2013).

[2] See the work of Doug Schuler, Evergreen State college, US; online presentation made from Seattle, Washington, US, as a part of the Human Choice and Computers 10 (HCC10) conference (accessed 10 June 2013).

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June 2013: News from IFIP, IFIP WG9.2 and members/friends

 Newsletters  Comments Off on June 2013: News from IFIP, IFIP WG9.2 and members/friends
Jun 102013


News from IFIP’s working group 9.2 (and members)

  • 12 June 2013. (1) Drinks/supper for 9.2 people around on Tuesday 12 June 2013, 19 00 CET at Hotel Saxildhus, Kolding, Denmark (self- paying) (2) Get- together workshop on Friday 14 June 16-18 00 CET in combination with SIG 9.2.2. followed by dinner at a local restaurant (self-paying). ETHICOMP 2013. The possibilities of ethical ICT. Details to be circulated to those who have signalled their attendance.
  • 17-21 June 2013. IFIP summer school – identity management, privacy, emerging technologies: summerschool-2013/registration.html.
    WG9.2 members – and others – are very welcome to attend in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, during the week of 17-21 June 2013.
  • The next Human Choice and Computers conference (HCC11) will be held July 30 – August 1, 2014, in Turku, Finland. Provisionally, to include one track per working group/special interest group topic in the conference. Volunteers who would be willing to do reviews for the conference, please send your names to diane.whitehouse[a]

    The review period is provisionally 6 January to 15 February, 2014, one to three papers to review, using the EasyChair system.

General news

  • COST Action IS2102. The launch of the website for this major new network, funded by the European Science Foundation and led by the University of Hertfordshire, has been announced. With 28 European countries and two non-European ones already signed up, this COST Action is already marking out and consolidating an important new field of research on the dynamics of virtual work, bringing together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds.
  • Survey entitled Incorporating Sustainability while Taking Software Product Management Decisions. Dr. Mahvish Khurum from Blekinge Institute of Technology Sweden, Dr. Birgit Penzenstadler from Technische Universität München Germany, Dr. Kai Petersen from Blekinge Institute of Technology Sweden and Dr. Krzysz Wnuk from Lund University Sweden, are conducting a survey to elicit state-of-practice in incorporating sustainability while taking software product management and development decisions.


Books, journal issues, other publications, and projects

  • A special issue of Rafael Capurro’s international review of information ethics: is about the relation of ICTs and real-world social change.
  • 25 June 2013. Deadline for submissions. IEEE Software is seeking papers for the following theme issue: Special issue on Green Software IEEE Software is a peer-reviewed professional magazine with a broad coverage of topics pertaining to software development. Important Dates: Submission deadline: 25 June 2013; Publication: January/February 2014. To submit an article:

Seminars, workshops and conferences (and their Calls)

  • 17-18 June 2013. The European Commission, FP7-funded support action CROSSOVER, together with UNDP-CIS, the Democratic Society and Euractiv, is organising the International Conference on Policy-Making 2.0 that will take place at the Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland on 17-18 June 2013. The draft programme is available at: http://www.crossover-, and you can register at The conference is organised just before the European Digital Agenda Assembly that will take place in Dublin on 19-20 June 2013.
  • 19-20 June 2013. CISTI Symposium 2013. Lisboa, Portugal. icle&id=64&Itemid=68&lang=en CISTI 2013’s Doctoral Symposium is to provide graduate students a setting where they can, informally, expose and discuss their work, collecting valuable expert opinions and sharing new ideas, methods and applications.
  • 20-21 June 2013. Workshop, National University of Ireland Galway, Thursday 20 June – Friday 21 June 2013. Keynote Speaker: Professor Bradley C. Karkkainen, University of Minnesota School of Law. The aim of this workshop is to build a network of researchers dealing with sustainability issues in order to prepare joint projects, funding applications and work towards an international conference dealing with this topic.
  • 1-3 July, 2013. CEPE 2013- Ambiguous Technologies: Philosophical Issues, Practical Solutions, Human Nature Autónoma University of Lisbon in 2013, in Lisbon (Portugal) (Note: the Society for Philosophy of Technology (SPT) will hold its 2013 conference – on the theme “Technology in the Age of Information” in conjunction with and immediately following CEPE’13, i.e., July 4-6 in the same venue: Discounted fees are available to those attend both conferences. Please see the conference websites for additional details.)
  • 4-6 July 2013. SPT 2013 – Lisbon (Portugal). The SPT 2013 theme is Technology in the Age of Information. A main aim of the conference is to encourage debate on the cultural, social, economic, political and ethical implications of advances in information and media technology. Digital networks and computerized technological systems have enlarged the domain of human technological action and responsibility, which raises new questions about the impacts of globalization and of the expanding information economy on the public and cultural spheres. A challenge facing the philosophy of technology and STS disciplines is to reflect upon our changed human condition and propose new ways to think through the quandaries technologies generate.
  • 24-26 July 2013. ICT, Society and Human Beings. Prague, Czech Republic The effects of ICT on human beings as well as the interaction between ICT, individuals, and society are all within the focus of this conference. Both analyses of interactions and effects are important. Changes in behaviour, perspectives, values, competencies, human and psychological aspects and feelings are all of interest. Reflections on past, present, and future challenges – especially planning for handling the latter – are encouraged.
  • 25-28 July 2013 Gatherings on the politics of technology. Celebrating the bi-centenary of the Luddite uprising 1811-1817. Yorkshire, England.
  • 17-18 August 2013. International Conference on Engineering for Humanity. Hyderabad, India. The theme of the conference is use of technology for social upliftment. The conference is technically sponsored by IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) and IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT). See
  • 2-3 September 2013. Call for Papers. Social Media. The fourth international transforming audiences conference making connections/creative cultures/open everything. Venue: University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS. Call for papers and submission details here:
  • 10 September 2013: Call for Papers. CFP – BCS HCI 2013 Workshop on HCI Innovation in Sustainable and Scalable Design (ISSD 2013)
  • 19-20 October 2013. The Marx2013-conference at Södertörn University in Stockholm, Sweden. The Center for Marxist Social Studies in Luleå, Sweden will organize a session on Technology and Critique.
  • 13-14 September 2013. 6th annual Popular Culture and World Politics conference is Pirating the Popular. It will be hosted at JMK, Stockholm University. Here is the website
  • 24-28 March, 2014. Gyeongju, South Korea. The 29th Annual ACM Symposium on Applied Computing. Call for Papers and Student Research Abstracts. Software Engineering Aspects of Green Computing.
  • 23-24 May 2014. 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) and 2014 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology, Ethics 2014. Chicago Marriott O’Hare, Chicago, IL, USA. The theme is Ethics? A Challenge to the Scientific and Engineering Community. ISTAS ’14 and the IEEE Ethics 2014 Symposium aim to respond to the needs and aspirations of a rising global professional community and to promote highest standards of ethical conduct among its members. For the latest information, first Announcement and Call for Papers please visit the site at:
  • 24-27 August 2014 (provisional date). ICT4S (ICT for Sustainability) conference. Stockholm, Sweden. ICT and Transformational Change. Abstract deadline: 21 February 2014.

For students

  • Student research abstracts. Graduate students seeking feedback from the scientific community on their research ideas are invited to submit abstracts (minimum of 2-pages and maximum of 4-pages) of their original un-published and in-progress research work in the area of Software Engineering Aspects of Green Computing. For more details, see
  • 10 June 2013. Extended deadline for application. Call for participation. Forum on Empowering Civil Society in the Black Sea region: a tool for Innovative Social Change. Athens, Greece

Health, well-being, and accessibility (and ICT) and associated information

  • 15 June 2013. Deadline for submissions the Health Policy and Technology journal. 1) Adopting Health Technology. National and international perspectives welcome on the following and other topics relevant to adoption of health technology. For more information regarding author guidelines and online submission, see All manuscripts can be submitted electronically using the online submission system: . For any further queries, please contact the Managing Editor at managingeditor at .
  • 20-23 August 2013, MedInfo 2013 Conducting medical informatics by Converging technologies, Conveying Sciences and Connecting People
  • 28-30 August 2013. CLMS-organised Information Governance Workshop at the Scottish Health Informatics Programme (SHIP) conference on 28- 30 August 2013 at St. Andrews in Scotland. For information about the workshop, please see


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