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Understanding and Mitigating the Effects of Device and Cloud Service Design Decisions on the Environmental Footprint of Digital Infrastructure


Interactive devices and the services they support are reliant on the cloud and the digital infrastructure supporting it. The environmental impacts of this infrastructure are substantial and for particular services the infrastructure can account for up to 85% of the total impact. In this paper, we apply the principles of Sustainable Interaction Design to cloud services use of the digital infrastructure. We perform a critical analysis of current design practice with regard to interactive services, which we identify as the cornucopian paradigm. We show how user-centered design principles induce environmental impacts in different ways, and combine with technical and business drivers to drive growth of the infrastructure through a reinforcing feedback cycle. We then create a design rubric, substantially extending that of Blevis [6], to cover impacts of the digital infrastructure. In doing so, we engage in design criticism, identifying examples (both actual and potential) of good and bad practice. We then extend this rubric beyond an eco-efficiency paradigm to consider deeper and more radical perspectives on sustainability, and finish with future directions for exploration.

DOI: 10.1145/2858036.2858378

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Limits'15: First Workshop on Computing within Limits

  • Daniel Pargmann, Barath Raghavan
  • 2015
Highly Influential
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