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Modularity as one principle in sustainable technology design – a design case study on ICT

Junge, Ines P.

FG Transdisziplinäre Nachhaltigkeitsforschung in der Elektronik

Within design of information and communication technology (ICT) we need to first shape and then follow a vision to take responsibility for the futures that design materializes. Although research and literature on both sustainable technology and sustainable interaction design grow significantly, both fields with their (im)material character, are less often thought together and seen as mutually shaping. Hence, this paper examines the state-of-the-art in modularity as one sustainable design principle for the mobile phone and related ICT, utilizing a review of design (concept) cases in form of their multimedia representations. Matching the findings from the concrete exemplars with generic scientific research results within modular designing informs a discussion on value preservation (promotion of reuse over recycling and the like), portraying nowadays insufficiencies on the one hand and desirable, meaningful futures on the other. It describes both the employment of and the confidence in modularity for accomplishing sustainability, digital materiality or the soft matter, and the demandingness of modularly upgradable architectures. Supposedly by help of the critical design practice in an academic context - which translates to fundamental creativity-based research driven by envisioning new possibilities - further research shall build on the insights gained here. Our vision may thus be called sustainable technology and interaction design, which as an acronym gives STaID.