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A pluriverse of local worlds: A review of Computing within Limits related terminology and practices

This paper has been written as part of the LIMITS 2021 workshop, 14 - 15 June 2021.

Green capitalism is shaping public discourse on how to best deal with the climate crisis, yet doesn’t challenge the ‘business as usual’ of free market capitalism that caused the crisis in the first place. Small scale practices challenging ’business as usual’ aren’t part of public discourse because they are small scale, less visible, often hard to access, easily appropriated by and seemingly unable to compete with the powerful lobby of large corporations. With Big Tech having an increasingly negative impact on the environment, and simultaneously shaping the discourse on how to best tackle the climate crisis, it is important to give voice and visibility to these alternatives. There is a rich diversity of practices and views on how network infrastructures’ impact could be lowered. This study aims to make them visible through a mapping of the different terms currently in circulation used by communities of practice, with the aim of teasing out the diverse thinking informing the infrastructures that are developed, maintained and repaired. The mapping will be based on a review of relevant literature and the results from a survey conducted on Mastodon, an open source decentralized social network with a user base that includes many developers and activists working on sustainability and social justice in relation to computing. The mapping aims to celebrate differences and also show what common ground this pluriverse of small scale community practices share.

The full paper can be downloaded here.