Volume 7 Number 1, Winter 2000:
Special Issue on:
How best may Information Society Technology
contribute to Sustainable Development?
What does this mean for the Future of Telework?
We are at a turning point, a paradigm shift, as we enter the 21st century. The last century was the century of information; the new century will be the century of networking. Information can only take us so far. At its limit it reinforces mind-body dualism and strengthens the elitism that can be implied by this split.
We are in the middle of leapfrog from a desk-based mind society to a society of embodied minds networked through mobile technologies. By joining up mind and body we are simply following what the neurosciences are now telling us about thinking; that it is a multilayered process framed by the body and driven by the emotions of the body.
E-Mail and its successors will be accessible to every 3 year old, adding excitement to the process of learning to read. Books were a less attractive carrot in the past, encouraging only a small fraction of children to learn to read before school. The PC is already delivering a far more substantial pay-back. The e-mail from a 3 year old on the other side of the world has far more impact than even the very best children’s story.
We may be standing in the way of global sustainability by focusing on the progressive dematerialisation of the industrial processes that are supporting our current lifestyle while ignoring the benefits of culture change. Already the third world is developing a less material culture than we passed through in the last two centuries, with little in the way of coal and steel, nothing in the way of steam engines. Even the telephone does not require massive numbers of twisted pairs and amplifiers, only a few aerials and inexpensive mobile telephones. Dematerialisation of products is the rust belt solution; immaterialisation of demand is the IST solution. That culture change has already started; first and third world 3 year olds are already communicating.
Planetary sustainability can be achieved by using Information Society Technologies to achieve the immaterialisation of lifestyles and more equitable global frameworks. The emerging global network infrastructure is already creating an ecology of networked individuals that is complementing the ecology of the planet; perhaps Gaia is being superseded by CyberGaia?
The emerging Network Society is one in which each person may belong to a number of communities, some local, some global, but all intertwined to such an extent that polarisation into friend and foe can only be achieved in the adrenalin driven myths of the network society such as real, and virtual, football.
This special issue of EJT is published to coincide with the conference “Towards a Sustainable Information Society”, in the belief that the future of telework is inseparable from the creation of the Sustainable Information Society.
Volume 7 Number 1, Winter 2000:
Immaterialisation A discussion of the key term in IST’s contribution to Sustainable Development
Consumption Substitution The effect of immaterialisation on material consumption and thus on Sustainable Development
Building the Future Creating the new non-material satisfiers for consumption substitution
Conference Announcement Towards a Sustainable Information Society
The Research Agenda What needs to be done to make the IST contribution real
The European Journal of Telework can be ordered from:
Addico Cornix Ltd,
70 Causewayhead, Penzance
Cornwall, TR18 2SR
Tel +44 1736 332 736
Fax +44 1736 334 702
E-mail: [email protected]