Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to look at current practices and associated consumption patterns in information technology (IT), looking at how impacts of IT, for good and ill, will be evaluated by green theory. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes an interdisciplinary approach drawing together literatures from a variety of fields, including green theory, information systems, green economics, computing, energy studies, cultural studies, waste management, and transport research. Findings – Feedback effects that cause early replacement of software and hardware form a complex, environmentally harmful, vicious circle that can appropriately be called “the upgrade treadmill”. Considering wider impacts of IT suggests that imperatives to renovate, rather than replace, hardware are stronger than narrower considerations of “green IT” would suggest, and there is a responsibility on those involved in the academic disciplines associated with training future IT professionals to try to work against the “upgrade treadmill”. Originality/value – This paper is novel in exposing green IT to green theory. In doing so, it seeks to move consideration of green IT onto a more rounded basis.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 17, 2011
Keywords: Communication technologies; Global warming; Consumer behaviour
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