Is computing tech possible in degrowth?
Take personal computing, to start with. Personal computing as it it right now, that’s for sure, for several reasons.
- Individuality, as in we are encouraged to have one each.
- Redundancy: a household in a privileged country can have members have a smartphone and laptop (plus tablets).
- The supply chains and mean life of phones and computers are unsustainable long-term, specially in a no-fossil fuel future (if no alternatives for long-distance transportation and resource extractivism arise).
Permacomputing (as defined here) advocates for a sustainable, long-term relationship with computing, accounting for decarbonziation and the possibility of collapse. It is related in philosophy to permaculture, or the aspiration to sustainable land management.
Permacomputing has retained a strong theoretical component, tough some of its tennets are popular enough to trigger cultural changes. Some examples (based on personal perception):
- Consequently, a certain nostalgia for minimal, personal, light websites.
- The black-box nature of hardware and software, inherent to complex objects, is actively countered by digital literacy (arguably focusing much more on the software side than on hardware) and the DIY/right to repair movements.
- Some (non-mainstream) companies build modular phones and computers.
It is still, of course, not enough. Developing non-tradicional relationships with computing (see compudanzas) is necessary, as well as more practical examples of sustainable internet (low weight protocols such as Gemini, or solar websites).