Sustainability Through Surveillance: ICT Discourses in Design Documents

Baki Cakici

Surveillance & Society, 2013.

In this paper, I examine design documents from three different ICT design and development projects. I argue that they present intersecting visions of sustainability entailing the wide-spread use of ICT, describe the properties of users compatible with such ICT, and provide ways of judging the users. In the design documents, the inhabitants are made individually responsible for living sustainably, and surveillance is positioned as integral to this future with the help of ICT. Underlying the visions, I identify a translation process that captures the traces of the inhabitants’ lives, classifies them according to different criteria of sustainable living, and returns them to the tapestry of everyday life to convince the users to behave differently. In the discourses of these documents, surveillance translates the traces, and the translations exert new pressures on existing power relations.

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