Eugenio Tisselli on Mon, 5 Mar 2012 04:49:26 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> On the "e-i-ization" of everything (including cows)

Eugenio Tisselli.

The ???e-i-ization??? of everything (including cows)
Posted on 29/02/2012


e-agriculture, e-learning, e-banking (sometimes also m-banking) on one hand??? and on the other, iPhones, iPads, iCows. We are living in times where adding the e- or i prefix to anything turns it into something new and exciting. In the first case, e- stands for electronic, implying that the service in question has grown out of its analog phase, and entered a digital one. The i prefix may seem a bit less obvious, but it???s really what it seems: i as in I, myself. I searched the Internet for the meaning of the i in iPhones, and this is what I found:

As announced for the very first iMac that came out in 98???, the ???i??? stood for ???Internet, Individual, Instruct, Inform, and Inspire.

And also:

The original imac, released in 1998, was marketed around the concept that it was the easiest computer to connect to the internet. in ???98, the internet was still something that most people didn???t use regularly, and so the idea of a computer that was ???internet ready??? was hip and new. The i stood for internet, but it also stood for ???I??? as in ???me???. The imac was designed to make the personal computer feel more personal, and make the user feel like the computer was working for them, not against them.

So, if there was ever any doubt about how the cult of the individual goes hand in hand with digital gadgets, especially those designed and marketed by Apple, let it be forever vanquished. And while urban citizens throughout the world will hardly find this problematic, we might begin to find some dissonance when the i-products are applied to the improvement of rural livelihoods, as in e-agriculture. Countless studies show that small-scale, subsistence and rural farmers rely on their communities as key elements to their practices: the social sphere is inseparable from what they do in the field. Just to provide an example: in his book, Zapotec Science, Roberto J Gonz??lez studies the traditional idea of "mantenimiento" among the Mixe people in Oaxaca, southern Mexico: literally translated as maintenance, it is a broad concept that deals with farming, the preparation and consumption of food, and the family???s sustenance. It implies a particular vision of
 time: to farm the land, but without exploiting it, so that it can feed us today and tomorrow as well. But, quite significantly, Zapotec people also understand the relationships within their communities as something to be maintained through a practice of reciprocity in which farming and food has a central role to play, and thus apply the same concept to their social sphere.

There is also an appization of everything, leading many to think that everything can be resolved, or at least improved, using a mobile application. This can be seen as a reductio ad "appsurdum" of the "e-i paradigm", and in fact reveals the worryingly reductionist worldview held by techno-determinists.??

Read the rest here:

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