Internet Geographer


New publication: Urban Food Futures: ICTs and Opportunities

I’m happy to announce that a new special issue that I co-edited with Jaz Hee-jeong is now out:

Urban food futures: ICTs and opportunities

The full line up of papers includes:

Urban food futures: ICTs and opportunities
Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, Mark Graham

Influencing online grocery innovation: Anti-choice as a trigger for activity fragmentation and multi-tasking
Ronan de Kervenoael, Jonathan Elms, Alan Hallsworth

ICTs and ethical consumption: The political and market futures of fair trade
Eleftheria J. Lekakis

Transition Belsize Veg Bag scheme: The role of ICTs in enabling new voices and community alliances around local food production and consumption
Ugo Vallauri

Co-creating sustainable eating futures: Technology, ICT and citizen–consumer ambivalence
Anna R. Davies

FridgeMatch: Design probe into the future of urban food commensality
Denisa Kera, Nur Liyana Sulaiman

Using communicative ecology theory to scope the emerging role of social media in the evolution of urban food systems
Greg Hearn, Natalie Collie, Peter Lyle, Jaz Hee-Jeong Choi, Marcus Foth

Our introduction summarises some of the work done in this area. The abstract is below and you can access a pre-publication version here.

Food is a vital foundation of all human life. It is essential to a myriad of political, socio-cultural, economic and environmental practices throughout history. As Kaplan contends, “the scholarship on food has real pedigree.” Today, practices of food production, consumption and distribution have the potential to go through immensely transformative shifts as network technologies become increasingly embedded in every domain of contemporary life. This presents unique opportunities for further scholarly exploration on this topic, which this special issue intends to address.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are one of the pillars of contemporary global functionality and sustenance and undoubtedly will continue to present new challenges and opportunities for the future. As such, this special issue of Futures has been brought together to address challenges and opportunities at the intersection of food and ICTs. In particular, the edition asks, what are the key roles that network technologies play in re-shaping social and economic networks of food?

Possible responses to the above question would necessarily be wide-ranging and even conflicting. We introduce a special issue here that addresses the question from multiple perspectives. This special issue was born out of a collection of papers that were presented at the Urban Food Futures symposium held in late 2011 at the University of Oxford’s Oxford Internet Institute. The speakers came from a variety of fields, including information technology, geography, business studies, development, and futures studies. Before introducing the papers that make up this issue and the debates and issues that they speak to, we find it useful to reflect on the importance of the coming-togethers of food and ICTs for futures studies. We do that in three ways.

First, we focus on the increasing data trails left behind by food as it is moved across the world, and highlight the significant impacts that these food-related data might have on both production and purchasing practices. Second, because our interactions with food are always inherently social, we focus on both the ways that ICTs are able to amplify certain socialites around food, and the broader implications of those amplifications. Finally, we focus on the re-routings of mobility and distribution networks made possible by ICTs and their potential effects on not just food production and consumption, but also the urban and rural infrastructures and spaces that mediate those activities.