Real economic abundance can come about only when the demand for a good is finite and the plentiful supply makes the abundant good affordable enough to all members of society. It lists an abundance-nurturing ethic as a major goal of abundance management, and encourages economists to make abundance together with scarcity their conceptual point of departure.
Special Issue: Ethics of Waste in the Information Society. International Review of Information Ethics. Issue No. 011, Vol. 11 – October 2009
This special issue of IRIE deals with the dark side of the knowledge economy, e-waste, and also has 2 articles that focus on the relation between waste and abundance, by Soenke Zehle and Roberto Verzola.
Below the abstract of the issue and of the two articles that retain our special interest, and which we hope to present in more detail in the future.
“IRIE, designed as a pure online journal, new issues announced by email, downloadable and fully readable as e-paper – in 2003 the founding editors really thought they have created a zero waste journal. But now we learned that much more has to be taken into account if one really wants to calculate the ecological bottom line of IRIE, includ-ing the electricity consumed by hosting the journal as well as reading it and above all the construction and disposal of the hardware engaged. Ultimately this expansion of the scope of our respective self assessment leads to an expansion of the scope of information ethics itself.
With this issue, IRIE – dedicated to the development of information ethics as a reflexive practice and conceptual horizon – aims to engage itself with the broad range of materials involved in the very acts and processes of communication, information, and knowledge production. This includes, but is not limited to, the instruments we employ, use, and discard in ever-shorter cycles of consumption, outpacing our efforts to develop appropriate mechanisms of disposal and recycling: from old television sets to LCD and plasma displays, from old disk drives to flash cards and RFID chips.Used locally, but designed, produced, and discarded across the world, the usage of these instruments – things – raises a lot of questions whose technical and political implications are increasingly being explored in an emerging regulatory regime, but whose info-ethical dimensions deserve greater attention as they require us to revisit cherished assumptions regarding the scope and desirability of information-societal developments as we know them.
The contributions to this issue offer the concept of network ecologies as a way to open info-ethical reflection to geophilosophical perspectives (Zehle), revisit the history of electronics activism and regulation (Smith, Fonseca and de Carvalho Matie-lo), reflect on the need to rethink waste or debris as resource for socio-technological innovation and survival (Vallauri, Renno), attend to the ecological impact of networks of distributed labor (Miller) and the biopolitical dimension of the simultaneous governance of waste and work (Rossiter), remind us of the material embeddedness of all info-ethical, geophilosophical reflection to encourage the embrace of an ethics of passage (Carter), and insist on the need to take abundance rather than scarcity as point of departure and reference and develop holistic approaches attentive to their complex relationship (Verzola).
Together, the authors offer themselves as interlo-cutors in info-ethical exchanges, some directly, some from within different (perhaps even incom-mensurable) analytical frameworks, recalling that acts of translation are always already involved in any attempt of ethical reflection.”
* Special Abundance essay 1
Essay: Network Ecologies: Geophilosophy between Conflict and Cartographies of Abundance. by Soenke Zehle
“In the context of network-ecological thought, information ethics is perhaps best understood as a transversal reflexive practice, aimed at identifying the stakes attending the creation, consumption, and disposal of infor-mation technologies. To situate itself as well as potential interlocutors, such a thought requires correspondingly complex cartographies, a multidimensional mapping of practices and presuppositions, of individual, collective, institutional actors as well as the conditions of possibility of their mutual engagement. Such cartographies do not assume the existence of the „local“ or the „global“ as a given. Instead, they attend to the way human and non-human actors and the discursive and material practices they are involved in contribute to construction and reconstruction of geocultural formations. Reapproached from within such a „network-ecological“ horizon, information ethics becomes geophilosophy, generating new modalities of intervention in the conflictual dynamics associated with the social-economic life of waste.”
* Special Abundance essay 2
Essay: 21st-Century Political Economies: Beyond Information Abundance. by Roberto Verzola
“As a result of the relatively low cost of digital reproduction, a global transformation is occurring in the nature of products and processes and in types of goods and services. Arising from information abundance, this global transformation is making the phenomenon of abundance a major field of study, not only for economists but also for other social scientists and physical scientists as well. This essay proposes an economic definition of abundance and a typology of sources of abundance. It argues that real economic abundance can come about only when the demand for a good is finite and the plentiful supply makes the abundant good affordable enough to all members of society. It lists an abundance-nurturing ethic as a major goal of abundance management, and encourages economists to make abundance together with scarcity their conceptual point of departure. Finally it links the phenomenon of abundance to the concept of the commons.”