An Introduction to Slow Computing:

Abstract: "In this short position paper we examine some of the dimensions and dynamics of the algorithmic age by considering three broad questions. First, what are the problematic consequences of life mediated by ‘algorithm machines’? Second, how are individuals or groups and associations resisting the problems they encounter? Third, how might the algorithmic age be re-envisioned and re-made in more normative terms? We focus on two key aspects of living with ubiquitous computing, ‘acceleration’ and ‘data grabbing,’ which we contend are two of the most prominent and problematic features of the algorithmic age. We then begin to shed light on the sorts of practices that constitute slow computing responses to these issues. In the conclusion, we make the case for a wide-scale embrace of slow computing, which we propose is a necessary step for society to make the most of the undeniable opportunities for radical social change emerging from contemporary technological developments"


  • How to practice resistance in the algorithmic age?
  • Slowing down one's rate of participation in processes of acceleration and temporal reconfiguration
  • Performing intricate 'dances' around and within data grabbing infrastructures
  • Using technology on our own terms


  • Networked technologies ore creating a faster and busier world
  • Acceleration of the pace of life; technological acceleration; acceleration of social change
  • People being 'always-everywhere available'
  • Time shifting of activities to formerly unavailable times (*dead time mode 'productive time)
  • More flexible scheduling of activities • Simultaneous occurrences, multitasking, and the interleaving of Wit/tiles
  • Shortening In the time log between action and event - immediate, distanciated response and real time systems
  • Compression, densification and fragmentation of time


  • Deciding to participate in tool processes at a slower rate than might be otherwise expected
  • Aim is to reduce time compression, fragmentation, densification and stresses.
  • Tactics include:
    • Switching off Wifi routers for set periods each day
    • less frequent 'checking in' on social media or only pursuing one or two email sessions per day
    • reserving computational free leisure time
    • maintaining scheduled, no device-ing meal times
    • organising pro-arranged meetings rather than doing so on-the-fly
    • choosing to buy and use non-smart or analogue electrical goods
    • collecting goods purchased online in-store rather than having them delivered
  • In other words, re-build one's life around social and clock time rather than network time, and older, slower practices rather than accelerated ones.
  • Not to abandon technology, but use it differently


  • Algorithmic age poses a number of personal challenges
  • Slow computing is about trying to negotiate these challenges as much as possible on one's own terms
  • As well as practical interventions, slow computing requires normative and political thinking concerning the land of algorithmic future we wont to create and live in
  • How should society and states respond collectively through regulation, legislation, education, and training?
  • Need to elaborate an ethics of acceleration and grabbing; an ethics of big data, algorithmic governance, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation and the diverse technologies and practices that increasingly shape everyday life
  • Plus map out moral contours and actions and more just alternatives 

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