Here is a summary of four green tech events I’ve attended this autumn: SIGCAS, SDIA, B&B, CJxDR. Find out what process lead me to "Three Principles of Sustainable Tech Governance: Limitations, Reparations, Solidarity". At the end, there is a long list of upcoming events for you to join and contribute!
SIGCAS, SDIA, B&B, CJxDR, RIPE - what do all these acronyms have in common? These are names of various events I took part in this autumn with people from academia, business, software developers, hackers, researchers, activists, funders, and so on. At all these gatherings, we worked together on questions about how digital/networking technologies and Internet Governance can work on sustainable technologies and contribute to climate justice.
Main conclusions: it is only when we combine the strengths and perspectives of various groups / disciplines that we will together find ways to deal with the upcoming perfect storm of climate chaos, pandemics, wars, colonialism, oppressions... We need both artists and engineers, activists and academics, philanthropists and protestors, hackers and entrepreneurs, researchers and refugees, politicians and poets.
Computers and Social Responsibility
ACM’s "Special interest group on Computers and Society" (SIGCAS) met online for two half days to celebrate the awards given to educators, and to hold discussions between panelists and participants. I really enjoyed attending sessions on “Social Responsibility in the Computing Profession” and “Tech for Civic Communities”. My contribution was within the “Sustainability and Green Internet” panel, where I introduced the RIPE community and some of the current work at IETF dealing with “green tech”, as well as hackers community. Fireside chat revealed that this academic community has some similar challenges to RIPE (ageing, decreasing participation) - but their topics are much more focused on social impact of technologies, rather than on the tech itself. The most interesting for me was a talk about Community Networks in Mexico by Esther Jang.
I was invited by Douglas Schuler, who I’ve met at Computing Within Limits conference, and it turned out that we have a shared friend from 20-30 years ago - proving that it is human connections that bridge the communities!
Sustainable Digital Infrastructures
- 23 September 2022, Berlin and online
- Hackathon/workshop: “Measure and reduce the environmental impact of software & digital products”
SDIA (Sustainable Digital Infrastructure Alliance) has been cooperating with the RIPE NCC for several years, and this time I got invited to be on the jury of their hackathon. However, after the workshop in Amsterdam, they decided to change the format of Berlin event into the workshop too — so I was only one of the participants.
I have learned a lot about high-level efforts within this community from the presentations by Max Schulze (SDIA), Chris Adams (Green Web Foundation) and Joseph P. De Veaugh-Geiss (Blauer Engel for FOSS), and from my fellow-participants during the “sticky-notes” exercise on barriers & opportunities for “greening the Internet”. The focus of this event was more on the software development and businesses and "web" layer, rather than on the infrastructure or policy.
Bits and Trees
- 1-2 October 2022, in Berlin
- Bits und Bäume: http://bits-und-baeume.org and all the videos
- Slides and Video of my talk and a blog post about my Forum session
This HUGE conference happened over the weekend at the TU Berlin. It is an offshoot of CCC, concerned with issues of sustainability and rights in technology. I attended in person, together with other 1000(s) people. I gave one talk (“Greening RIPE with Activism & Empathy”) and one informal session. My goals were to inform the climate justice activists and digital rights activists (+ hackers, artists, mediators…) to join RIPE community, in the format of Non-Violent communication steps, that correspond to the 4 layered version of TCP/IP stack:
- RIPE is part of Internet Governance power structures
- Climate Crisis is impacting internet infrastructure / “Data is the New Oil”
- Climate Grief, Climate Anxiety... and some hope
- Curiosity about adjacent communities and frustration by slow actions in RIPE
- Needs: Awareness; responsibility; Help, support, solidarity, contribution; J.E.D.I.
- Requests / Offers: Please join our community, and invite us to work on this together!
NEW: We now also have a Forum: forum.ripe.net (Discourse-powered web tool for community discussions)
Many wins, but quite a few challenges
Challenges: most of the programme and information was in German; there was TOO MUCH content - 10 tracks and extra self-organised sessions (“Forum”), so even the most interesting panels were very little attended; it happened in the weekend, so I did not have much time to rest between two working weeks; it was raining ;-) (see lunch!)
Wins: organised by volunteers (“angels”)! All the tracks were streamed and recorded; delicious vegan lunches were cooked in the “field kitchen”, and eaten outside (but it rained…); there were free snacks distributed by volunteers all around the Forum; venue was two (technical) university buildings so the atmosphere was nostalgic and/or informal; face masks were mandatory and COVID-19 self-testing was checked at the entrance; gender diversity was amazingly good!; “awareness” posters and awareness teams, also run by volunteers (their name for Code of Conduct) were there to ensure safety; there was an app for dealing with the programme — finding talks, marking favourites and getting reminders before the start...
Top three panels
- Global Justice and Digitization: Perspectives from Latin America (Renata Avila), Subsahara (Gabriel Karsan) and India (Nandini Chami) on structures of ownership and power; and a Blog post about this session
- Building Just and Sustainable Digital Futures, with Camila Nobrega, Julia Kloiber, Prof. Dr. Lynn Kaack, Katrin Fritsch and Aymara Llanque Zonta
- Enabling Democratic Discourse Beyond Privatized Digital Public Spheres, Zara Rahman, Jillian C. York & Henriette Litta
This year, a coalition of 13 organisations behind "Bits & Trees" have updated their demands (PDF), addressed to German government, European Union and world leaders: "We demand:
- Digitisation must be placed more at the service of society and of social and ecological change.
- Digital technologies should contribute to the improvement of living conditions and the environment through equal social participation and within planetary boundaries,
- instead of exacerbating existing crises even further due to exploding energy requirements, resource consumption and lack of participation, especially in the Global South."
The full document has 5 short demands and then a longer version; here is the HTML, easier to translate.
- Digitisation within the planetary boundaries
- Global justice and regional self-determination
- Redistribution of technological design power, democracy and participation
- Fair digitisation, sustainable technology design and social issues
- Protection of digital infrastructure and IT security
Confluence of Digital Rights and Climate Justice
- 4-5 October, Berlin
- "Funders" event, focused on CJxDR
- Link to "The Report" and a recording of Becky Kazanski's talk
A perfect transition between two Berlin events was a talk "Digital rights & climate justice" that Becky gave at Bits & Baúme, and it also explains the unofficial event name “CJxDR”. The event was very hands-on, intensive and informal, organised by the coalition of funding organisations - Mozilla Foundation, Ford Foundation and Ariadne (et.al) - and attended (by invitation) by 45-50 individuals from NGOs dealing with these topics (APC, Hivos, BSR, Engine Room… to mention just a few!) .
Before funders deepen investment and research, there was a clear desire to include the voices of perspectives from movements and practitioners within the digital rights and climate justice space.... and more targeted conversations and shared spaces between climate justice and digital rights practitioners.
The work was divided in four “deep dives”. I was mostly involved in the “Tech standards and governance”, together with Green Web Foundation, APC, OTF, STF, ISOC. We will continue to work on the ideas and the materials we created collectively. My draft contributions are collected here, to be continued... and it's a wiki, so you can add to it :)
My personal summary is: "Three Principles of Sustainable Tech Governance": Limitations, Reparations, Solidarity (inspired by the (old) principles of address-space distribution: Conservation, Aggregation, Registration).
Artists / Activists Intersecting with Sustainable Tech
For me, the main outcomes of all of these events, and my wanderings over Berlin on the e-scooter, are:
- Awareness of who was NOT included
- Impressions in images, movies, tastes, music and art
Therefore, my intentions, my commitment and where I will take leadership in are: connecting my activist and artist friends with the funders and organisations that can provide help, solidarity and projects for each others!
For the list of foundations and grants, look here: https://wiki.techinc.nl/MeshNet#Funding
And here are artists, collectives and events that I've know of and appreciate, who I recommend for receiving support:
- Citizen Kino, by XLterrestrials
- This is an Indtmedia collective of artists and analysts, performing public media interventions, cinematic hacking and collaborative investigations; including online-radio performances such as Globalista Radio Kit
- I've attended both of their sessions at B&B, had tea together, and revisited our encounters at other CCC events
- Small, self-organised hackers/art camps in the Balkans:
- Inari, from irrational.org
- Refugees, migrants & asylum seekers: WeAreHere (Holland), OPlatz(Germany)
- Tactical Media Room Amsterdam, a temporary & loose collective for solidarity with digital rights activists in Ukraine / Russia / Belarus
- Disobedient Art School & Digital Disobedience
Join Next Events
Until the end of 2022, there are already many events where we can work together on Climate Justice. Do join and keep up the good work!
- Mid-October: "Community Health Village! Online Healing & Education Sessions" by IFF
- Carbon Hack 22: October 13 — November 4.
- Online Hackathon supported by our Discord community,
- The Race to Build Sustainable Software - using the Green Software Foundation's Carbon Aware SDK.
- FIfFKon 2022: 21. - 23. October, Berlin, Germany
- "Make install PEACE: Impulses for Peace 2022"
- By “Forum Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility”, Archenholdsternwarte Berlin and a forum of critical computer scientists
- RIPE85, 24-28. October, Belgrade, Serbia
- Including '13 Propositions for a Burning World' Tobias Fiebig, MPI INF, and Doris Aschenbrenner, Aalen University
- GZW2022: 30 October 2022, Biarritz, France
- The First International Workshop on Greening the Web ( Co-located with 23rd International Conference on Web Information System Engineering (WISE 2022),
- NOG.HR, 10.November, Zagreb, Croatia
- Including My talk: How to NOT Kill the Planet with Cat Videos: Making the Internet Sustainable: Towards Climate Justice
- IAB Workshop on e-impact, 5. December, online
- “Environmental Impact of Internet Applications and Systems, 2022”
- Deadline: 30 October!!!
- COP27, 6-18 November 2022 , Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
- Conference Of The Parties.unfccc.int
- IGF , 28 Nov - 2 Dec, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
- Internet Governance Forum (Global IGF)
- "... including environmental safety, considering efforts to ‘green’ the Internet and reduce carbon emissions associated with digital consumption."
And of course:
- 37c3: 27-30. December, Hamburg
- CCC: Chaos Communication Congress, the annual conference of the Chaos Computer Club.
As a wise woman said:
We need people who are well versed in climate and sustainability. Because we don't have that knowledge. We urgently need more people who get together, put their heads together, have different expertise, so that we can actually become politically effective.