tisdag 12 december 2017

Routledge's Digital Technology and Sustainability (book)


I have a chapter in this book and it's finally out! The just-published (2018 - go figure) book "Digital Technology and Sustainability: Engaging the Paradox" has been edited by Mike Hazas (Lancaster University, UK) and Lisa Nathan (University of British Columbia, Canada). 

My chapter (chapter 9) is written together with my colleague Elina Eriksson (she's the first author) and it's called "On the Inherent Contradictions of Teaching Sustainability at a Technical University". There are another 12 chapters in the book and I know the majority (but not all) of the other 20+ authors. The list of authors reads like a list of who's who in the world of Sustainable Human-Computer Interaction (SHCI).

I remember how me and Elina no less than one and a half years ago divided up the tasks between us so that I took charge of the Interactions article we wrote ("At Odds with a Worldview - Teaching Limits at a technical university") while she took the lead on this book chapter. Despite the similarity between the titles, the Interactions piece and this book chapter really are two quite different texts. There was also another proposed chapter for the book that I had to withdraw due to a heavy work load. At the time, the proposed title for the book was a mouthful: "Digital Technology and Sustainability: Acknowledging Paradox, Facing Conflict, and Embracing Disruption". Tracing the book backwards (though blog posts), it seems I first heard about the book almost one year earlier, in August 2015. That's how long the lead times are for publishing an edited book!

Well now the book is out - but I don't have a copy of it! I think the publisher (Routledge) was quite stingy in only giving one single copy to the first author of each book chapter. Out of the 13 book chapters, two chapters have single authors, nine chapters have two authors and two chapters have three authors, so the publisher could have given each author a copy of the book by just doubling up. Which they didn't. And since this book was published by Routledge, the hard cover costs a fortune (currently £92 - down from £115). I will just have to wait and hope there will be an decently priced paperback edition of the book available 12 or 18 months from now. Still, I think this is a case of where stupidity trumps wisdom. I have contributed to the book. I teach courses about this subject. I can influence the course literature. But I still don't get a book and I definitely don't feel like paying the price of four or five ordinary books...

These were the stated objectives of the book back in April 2016 when the editors asked for chapter proposals/extended abstracts:

-  To articulate and address the conundrums (theoretical, methodological, practical) for digital technology, and sustainable HCI in particular, in a single definitive volume;
-  To advance an iterative, interactive process (e.g., virtual workshops and one-to-ones) between scholars in the field;
-  Create a touchstone that scholars, students and interested members of the broader public can use to develop their understandings of sustainability in a digital future;
-  To initiate accessible and engaging modes of broad dissemination to coincide with the release of the book (e.g., video shorts and animations).

And here is the publisher's description of the book:

"This book brings together diverse voices from across the field of sustainable human computer interaction (SHCI) to discuss what it means for digital technology to support sustainability and how humans and technology can work together optimally for a more sustainable future.

Contemporary digital technologies are hailed by tech companies, governments and academics as leading-edge solutions to the challenges of environmental sustainability; smarter homes, more persuasive technologies, and a robust Internet of Things hold the promise for creating a greener world. Yet, deployments of interactive technologies for such purposes often lead to a paradox: they algorithmically "optimize" heating and lighting of houses without regard to the dynamics of daily life in the home; they can collect and display data that allow us to reflect on energy and emissions, yet the same information can cause us to raise our expectations for comfort and convenience; they might allow us to share best practice for sustainable living through social networking and online communities, yet these same systems further our participation in consumerism and contribute to an ever-greater volume of electronic waste.By acknowledging these paradoxes, this book represents a significant critical inquiry into digital technology’s longer-term impact on ideals of sustainability.

Written by an interdisciplinary team of contributors this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of human computer interaction and environmental studies."

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