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[liberationtech] CfP: The Materiality of the Immaterial: ICTs and the Digital Commons (tripleC Special Issue)

Vasilis Kostakis kostakis.b at
Wed Oct 15 00:00:38 PDT 2014

Dear all,

I think that the following call might be of interest to some members of the

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


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,


Submission of abstracts (250-300 words) by January 15, 2015 via email to
vasileios.kostakis at
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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