La Fresque du Numérique, a workshop on the environmental challenges of the digital world

In my last blog post, we talked about the environmental impact of the digital world. That may sound obvious when you say it, but it's not. As a user or professional, you mainly see the use and its consequences. Because of its growth, the main narrative has been positive. Roughly speaking, it will save us. Honestly, I believed it. I bought it.

I belong to generation X, I had the chance to have access to personal computers. I liked science, technology, ... and SciFi novels, especially cyberpunk. Not original, right? I was amazed by the potential of computers, even if I could see the possible abuse of their power.

When I studied engineering, I was interested in complex systems. I studied control systems, cybernetics, and dynamical systems. I studied the World3 model. So I knew ... but I still didn't see the branches in the real world and how much we were (and still are) dependent on the material world (fossil and abiotic).

Why am I telling you this? I want to illustrate with my own case that the beliefs and perspectives are very strong and they avoid us to see through them if we don't look carefully and deeply. It took me 5 years to deconstruct mine on my own. I wish someone had helped me from the beginning to get the big picture (and the references).

The information may be available, but the narrative about the benign power of the digital remains strong: "it's virtual, just bits, just a little electricity, it's green, it'll solve everything". The reality is more complex: making a 2kg laptop requires 800kg of material and several thousand gallons of water. We have to raise awareness.

official card of the digital collage "The ecological backpack"

I was looking for training in ITC sustainability when I found a French NGO that runs a workshop on the topic: "La Fresque du Numérique". It's based on the pedagogy of "La Fresque du Climat": the participants have to work together to rearrange a pile of facts that they get during the workshop. They debate, exchange perspectives, and then correct themselves thanks to the facilitator's feedback. Step by step, you uncover the complex system behind it. It was refreshing and to the point, as in 3h30 we were able to grasp the main mechanisms, implications, challenges and threats.

I think it's a great way to start and raise awareness in a group. They have an English version and some of the workshops are online. For my part, I will continue to learn(and share) and in particular take their training to become a facilitator.

By the way, La Fresque du Climat is also great.

If you have any comment, question, or feedback, please share them with me.

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