[NetBehaviour] Call for Papers: The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital Commons

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Oct 15 12:08:30 CEST 2014

Call for Papers: The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital 


Special issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique 
Abstract submission deadline: January 15, 2015

Guest editors: Vasilis Kostakis, Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and 
Governance, Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia), P2P Lab 
(Greece); Andreas Roos, Human Ecology Division, Lund University (Sweden)

With an escalating environmental crisis and an unprecedented increase of 
ICT diversity and use, it is more crucial than ever to understand the 
underlying material aspects of the ICT infrastructure.  This special 
issue therefore asks the question: What are the true material and 
socio-environmental costs of the global ICT infrastructure?

In a recent paper (Fuchs 2013) as well as in the book Digital Labour and 
Karl Marx (Fuchs 2014), Christian Fuchs examined the complex web of 
production relations and the new division of digital labour that makes 
possible the vast and cheap ICT infrastructure as we know it. The 
analysis partly revealed that ICT products and infrastructure can be 
said to embody slave-like and other extremely harsh conditions that 
perpetually force mine and assembly workers into conditions of 
dependency. Expanding this argument, the WWF reported (Reed and Miranda 
2007) that mining in the Congo basin poses considerable threats to the 
local environment in the form of pollution, the loss of biodiversity, 
and an increased presence of business-as-usual made possible by roads 
and railways.  Thus ICTs can be said to be not at all immaterial because 
the ICT infrastructure under the given economic conditions can be said 
to embody as its material foundations slave-like working conditions, 
various class relations and undesirable environmental consequences.

At the same time, the emerging digital commons provide a new and 
promising platform for social developments, arguably enabled by the 
progressive dynamics of ICT development. These are predominantly 
manifested as commons-based peer production, i.e., a new mode of 
collaborative, social production (Benkler 2006); and grassroots digital 
fabrication or community-driven makerspaces, i.e., forms of bottom-up, 
distributed manufacturing. The most well known examples of commons-based 
peer production are the free/open source software projects and the free 
encyclopaedia Wikipedia. While these new forms of social organisation 
are immanent in capitalism, they also have the features to challenge 
these conditions in a way that might in turn transcend the dominant 
system (Kostakis and Bauwens 2014).

Following this dialectical framing, we would like to call for papers for 
a special issue of tripleC that will investigate how we can understand 
and balance the perils and promises of ICTs in order to make way for a 
just and sustainable paradigm. We seek scholarly articles and 
commentaries that address any of the following themes and beyond. We 
also welcome experimental formats, especially photo essays, which 
address the special issue's theme.

Suggested themes

Papers that track, measure and/or theorise the scope of the 
socio-environmental impact of the ICT infrastructure.
Papers that track, measure and/or theorise surplus value as both 
ecological (land), social (labour) and intellectual (patent) in the 
context of ICTs.
Understanding the human organisation of nature in commons-based peer 
Studies of the environmental dimensions of desktop manufacturing 
technologies (for example, 3D printing or CNC machines) in 
non-industrial modes of subsistence, e.g. eco-villages or traditional 
agriculture, as well as in modern towns and mega-cities.
Suggestions for and insights into bridging understandings of the 
socio-economic organisation of the natural commons with the 
socio-economic organisation of the digital commons drawing on types of 
organisations in the past and the present that are grounded in theories 
of the commons.
Elaboration of which theoretical approaches can be used for overcoming 
the conceptual separation of the categories immaterial/material in the 
digital commons.


Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The wealth of networks: How social production 
transforms markets and freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Fuchs, Christian. 2014. Digital labour and Karl Marx. New York: Routledge.

Fuchs, Christian. 2013. Theorising and analysing digital labour: From 
global value chains to modes of production. The Political Economy of 
Communication 1 (2): 3-27. 

Kostakis, Vasilis and Michel Bauwens. 2014. Network society and future 
scenarios for a collaborative economy. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Reed, Erik and Marta Miranda. 2007. Assessment of the mining sector and 
infrastructure development in the congo basin region. Washington DC: 
World Wildlife Fund, Macroeconomics for Sustainable Development Program 
Office, 27. http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/congobasinmining.pdf


Submission of abstracts (250-300 words) by January 15, 2015 via email to 
vasileios.kostakis at ttu.ee
Responses about acceptance/rejection to authors: February 15, 2015.
Selected authors will be expected to submit their full documents to 
tripleC via the online submission system by May 15, 2015:
Expected publication date of the special issue: October 1, 2015.

About the journal

tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique is an academic open access 
online journal using a non-commercial Creative Commons license. It is a 
journal that focuses on information society studies and studies of 
media, digital media, information and communication in society with a 
special interest in critical studies in these thematic areas. The 
journal has a special interest in disseminating articles that focus on 
the role of information in contemporary capitalist societies. For this 
task, articles should employ critical theories and/or empirical research 
inspired by critical theories and/or philosophy and ethics guided by 
critical thinking as well as relate the analysis to power structures and 
inequalities of capitalism, especially forms of stratification such as 
class, racist and other ideologies and capitalist patriarchy.
Papers should reflect on how the presented findings contribute to the 
illumination of conditions that foster or hinder the advancement of a 
global sustainable and participatory information society. TripleC was 
founded in 2003 and is edited by Christian Fuchs and Marisol Sandoval.


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