English and Media Studies, University of Victoria
While digital projects in the humanities are frequently associated with innovation, less attention may be paid to their care and maintenance over time. This talk draws from recent research in activity theory and minimal computing as well as allied fields, such as game studies, to address the “degrowth” of digital projects from the labor perspective. First, I outline the motives and trajectories of this perspective, and then I communicate the importance of value-sensitive design to determining three things: 1) a project’s needs and desires, 2) what work is required and from whom, and 3) how to sustain the labor involved. Degrowth aims to reduce computation’s alienating effects in the interests of social organization and collective expertise, and it does so by foregrounding the cultures and habits of digital projects over their technical particulars. These issues matter for the livelihood of practitioners as gig economics and precarious labor become the norm in the technology sector.