Entering eco-conception today

  • 2023-01-31
  • featuring
  • Pierre Ragois
  • EN / FR

For the past months, I've been absent from the few social media/digital platforms I still frequent. But today I went to visit Linkedin to see what some of the researchers I follow are working on.
Generally, accessing this content is done at the cost of many lacrymal messages for which we all tend to cringe, yet what surprised me more than during my last visits is the high number of posts from people leaving their jobs to embark on eco-conception. I still don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, keeping in mind what Gauthier Roussilhe called "Digital sustainability, the fog to come" in his excellent article of 2021 (1).
It resonated with a conversation I had had a few days prior and led me to a series of reflections on the past seven years. Seven years working on eco-conception and environmental / social / political issues around digital technology.
What conclusions do I draw from it in the relationship with my clients as well as the longevity of their projects. Here is some feedback in three key points on quite a few years of work in the field.

Activity is important #

If a company is not changing its business to make it environmentally sustainable, then eco-designing its digital services/devices is surely synonymous with growth/good conscience in the minds of its employee-bosses.

The context of Internet matters #

It is essential to understand that the Internet operates on a global scale with ecocidal strategies. Eco-designing amounts to shooting a bullet in the foot of any company that falls within the observation of our first point, because we will seek to move away from these strategies and therefore "it will work less well", as our famous Bourvil would say.

Rebound effects #

If the people who make up the company are not politically convinced that eco-conception is the right thing to do, after the cold shower of our second observation, they will redo their site/service usually within two years with a massive rebound effect (colossal budgets in communication, adwords, videos, etc)

Conclusion #

Eco-conception, even if the web pages are light, is not synonymous with optimization, quite the contrary.
We are constantly swimming against all the strategies that are working at the moment and apart from companies like Total (where digital is only a public showcase that serves a discourse and not the activity) it is counterproductive to eco-design, doing less when everything indicates that you have to do "more". More content, more presence on networks, social media, more videos, more advertisements, more SEO, etc.

For eco-design efforts to hold up over time, what counts from my point of view is above all the degree of acceptance of this simple principle: what is "well done" is not measured by scale of today, but on that of tomorrow.

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