Digital Ecosystem: the workings of a metaphor

The idea of a digital ecosystem has gained currency for its capacity to depict contemporary technological change as autonomous and generally beneficial. Since the 1990s, the ecological concept has been stretched to provide a series of naturalistic frames to phenomena ranging from cyberinfrastructure to economic interactions and the urban everyday. This talk engages with the ideological work of the metaphor in justifying digital capitalism. Krivý begins by focusing on the North American mainstream to outline a recent history of interdisciplinary exchanges between ecology and fields such as IT, business and policy. He then turns to Estonia to highlight the view from the Eastern European semi-periphery: in this case, “digital ecosystem” describes a form of national imaginary that aspires to undo the Soviet legacy through a combined emphasis on entrepreneurship, digitalization and market-oriented sustainability. Metaphors matter because they enable certain perspectives and exclude others, thereby shaping political economies and ecologies across different scales.