Frontier technologies and digital solutions: digital ecosystems, open data and wishful thinking

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Arguments to globalise digital ecosystems are emerging, in part seeking to enable a unified approach for global environmental crises. Primarily these calls are being made for increased availability of open data and to facilitate networking of organisations more effectively. It is hoped that by creating more open data then better environmental decision-making will follow, but these propositions tend to operationalise digital solutionism. I argue that, despite these optimistic gestures, it is unlikely that greater data sharing and open digital ecosystems will significantly recast the conditions of the Anthropocene, and that such efforts may even further entrench the conditions of this troubling epoch. This commentary offers a discourse analysis of recent wishful thinking on digital ecosystems from the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 2019) and considers the implications of frontier orientations towards digital technologies and geographies. The frontier thinking that underpins arguments for more integrated digital ecosystems reflects ecomodernist approaches and perpetuates technological solutionism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalAnthropocenes - Human, Inhuman, Posthuman
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • digital ecosystem
  • digital solutionism
  • frontier
  • discourse
  • United Nations
  • environment


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