[Topic 6] [Outline] [Topic 8]

Topic 7 - Tech:nature literacy: Technobiophilia


Sue Thomas, PhD.

Dates: November 18-December 1



This lecture uncovers a hidden literacy in the way we think about nature in cyberspace. Why are there so many nature metaphors – clouds, rivers, streams, viruses, and bugs – in the language of the internet? Why do we adorn our screens with exotic images of forests, waterfalls, animals and beaches? In her new book ‘Technobiophilia: Nature and Cyberspace’, Sue Thomas interrogates the prevalence online of nature-derived metaphors and imagery and come to a surprising conclusion. The root of this trend, she believes, lies in biophilia, defined by biologist E.O. Wilson as ‘the innate attraction to life and lifelike processes’.  


In this lecture, which marks the US launch of the book, she explores the strong thread of biophilia which runs through our online lives, a phenomenon she calls ‘technobiophilia’, or, the ‘innate attraction to life and lifelike processes as they appear in technology’.  She believes that the restorative qualities of biophilia can alleviate mental fatigue and enhance our capacity for directed attention, soothing our connected minds and easing our relationship with computers.


Awareness of this confluence of technology and nature informs reflective learning and empowers metaliteracy practitioners to manage their interactions with the wired world in order to develop practical personal and public strategies for digital well-being. This topic relates directly to the metaliteracy objective of demonstrating the ability to connect learning and research strategies with lifelong learning processes and personal, academic, and professional goals



Sue Thomas is a writer and a Visiting Fellow in The Media School at Bournemouth University. She is a well-known transliteracy scholar and her work on tech:nature literacy has evolved from that research. In 1995 she founded the trAce Online Writing Centre, an early global online community which ran for ten years. From 2005-2013 she was Professor of New Media in the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University where she researched biophilia, social media, transliteracy, transdisciplinarity and future foresight. Her books include ‘Technobiophilia: nature and cyberspace’ (2013), a study of the impact of the natural world on digital culture; ‘Hello World: travels in virtuality’ (2004), a travelogue/memoir of life online, and ‘Correspondence’ (1992), short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. She lives in Bournemouth, Dorset, UK. www.suethomas.net @suethomas




Sue Thomas Keynote

Technobiophilia:nature and cyberspace


Thomas, S. et al. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday,12(12). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2060/1908

Sue Thomas Lecture at 3T conference 2013

Tech: nature

Sue Thomas Videos

Essay: Technobiophilia:

Video: Technobiophilia





 MOOC Talk:

  • Monday, 18 November: Live Session: Location: Blackboard Collaborate with Sue Thomas and Michele Forte. 
  • Time:8:00 p.m. Moscow; 5:00 p.m. London; 12 noon New York; 9:00 a.m. Los Angeles; midnight Thursday Beijing




Map out your own relationships with technology and nature. Do they overlap or are they kept separate? Can you see ways to integrate them which would contribute to your well-being?



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