Proceedings of the 2014 conference ICT for Sustainability

Web for Sustainability: Tackling Environmental Complexity with Scale

Jack Townsend
Corresponding Author
Jack Townsend
Available Online August 2014.
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ICT for Sustainability; Web Science; Cleanweb; Web for Sustainability; Web Entrepreneurship; Environment; Climate Change; Complexity; Big Data; Information Visualization; Open Data; Human-Computer Interaction; Energy Efficiency; Sustainable HCI; Behaviour Change; Collaborative Consumption; Environme
There are contrasting ways to understand the Web: as global technical infrastructure, the largest ever information construct, and as social new media. Existing communities of ICT for sustainability, such as environmental informatics, Green ICT, and even the more recent sustainable HCI, tend to focus on engineering and the individual user. However, the Web’s full potential to advance environmental sustainability is contingent upon it capacity for social communication, its content, massive scale and diversity. This research explores the nature of web for environmental sustainability through qualitative analysis of data describing systems and companies. These have been called cleanweb companies, and the definition of cleanweb is discussed and an estimate found of the number of firms (at least 2000). Two major dimensions of web for sustainability are identified: the web means (more valuable insight or relationships) and the complexity of the environmental ends (narrow resource-use or broad sustainability). These demarcate a matrix of four domains of web for sustainability systems (resource insight, sustainability insight, resource networks and sustainability networks). Areas of current activity within each domain are identified, along with example systems. Each domain has a distinct and valuable role, and the complexity of environmental sustainability, and particularly rebound effects, create both congruities and interdependencies between them. The matrix highlights the importance of innovation in broad sustainability web systems, not just in resource-use. It spans from engineering to the humanities, illustrating the need for interdisciplinary research approaches, such as web science, in order to realise the transformative sustainability opportunities presented by the scale of the Web.
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ICT for Sustainability 2014 (ICT4S-14)
Part of series
Advances in Computer Science Research
Publication Date
August 2014
DOI to use a DOI?
Open Access
This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC license.

Cite this article

AU  - Jack Townsend
PY  - 2014/08
DA  - 2014/08
TI  - Web for Sustainability: Tackling Environmental Complexity with Scale
BT  - ICT for Sustainability 2014 (ICT4S-14)
PB  - Atlantis Press
SP  - 68
EP  - 76
SN  - 2352-538X
UR  -
DO  -
ID  - Townsend2014/08
ER  -