Collapse informatics and practice: Theory, method, and design
What happens if efforts to achieve sustainability fail? Research in many fields argues that contemporary global industrial civilization will not persist indefinitely in its current form, and may, like many past human societies, eventually collapse. Arguments in environmental studies, anthropology, and other fields indicate that this transformation could begin within the next half-century. While imminent collapse is far from certain, it is prudent to consider now how to develop sociotechnical systems for use in these scenarios. We introduce the notion of collapse informatics—the study, design, and development of sociotechnical systems in the abundant present for use in a future of scarcity. We sketch the design space of collapse informatics and a variety of example projects. We ask how notions of practice—theorized as collective activity in the “here and now”—can shift to the future since collapse has yet to occur.