Information, Communication & Society Journal: Special Issue on Sustainable Information Society

The journal Information, Communication & Society features a special issue on “Sustainable Development and ICTs” in its current issue (Volume 13, Number 1):

The guest editors of this issue, Robert Bichler, Gunilla Bradley and Wolfgang Hofkirchner, argue in the introduction: “Why is a special issue on the relation between Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the notion of sustainable development important? Contemporary societies are characterized on the one hand by developments in science and technology, which have improved individual living standards, and on the other hand by pressing ecological, political, economic and cultural problems. Additionally, the development, use and ephemerality of technologies bear inherent risks of side effects, e.g. resulting waste, pollution, health risks, and other unforeseen, undesired destructive social and societal changes. The question of how to
solve current societal problems on a global scale in a sustainable manner is there-fore put more and more on the agenda of the scientific as well as the public debate”.

So this issue is focusing on what it takes to achieve a “good information society”. It features 7 articles, including my own on “Theoretical Foundations of Defining the Participatory, Co-operative Sustainable Information Society” . (reference: Fuchs, Christian. 2010. Theoretical Foundations of Defininf the Participatory, Co-operative Sustainable Information Society. Information, Communication & Society 13 (1): 23-47).

The main question is: Which qualities must a sustainable information sociey have and how can they be achieved? Lorenz Hilty and Thomas Ruddy argue in their paper “Sustainable Development and ICT Interpreted in a Natural Science Context” that ecological issue are the one main concern for achieving a good information society. In my own contribution, I argue in contrast that Hilty’s and Ruddy’s view is rather uncritical, a form of ecological reductionism, and that an alternative approach is needed that focuses on social, political, economic, cultural, and ecological phenomena of the information society, on how societal problems interact at all of these levels, and on how a good information society can be created by advancing changes at all of these levels. The debate boils down to the question if sustainable information society should be understood as an ecological concept, as an ecologically determined concept, or as a multidimensional concept that is based on interlinkages between various dimensions of society.

Overall, the discussion shows that normative aspects of information society research are important and that there are various positions on the question of how to achieve a good information society.

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