Preliminary thoughts on a taxonomy of value for sustainable computing

Kentaro Toyama


In anticipation of the various and imminent limits to global consumption-based growth, some quarters of the technology industry have begun to consider the novel use of computing to prevent, postpone, alleviate, or recover from a crisis in what could be called “sustainable computing.” There is, however, a great danger that certain inclinations of the technology sector will undermine the very goals of sustainability and resilience that such efforts claim to seek.

This paper outlines a preliminary taxonomy of value for sustainable computing projects. The taxonomy suggests a three-dimensional classification of projects in terms of their impact on, intention toward, and effort required for sustainability. By making explicit an evaluative framework by which computing might and might not contribute to sustainability goals, the hope is that future work will tend toward projects that are genuinely helpful.

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