Friday, December 01, 2006

Eran was excited during the week because the computer system arrived for the new dairies in village one. Neither of us has any kind of background in agriculture outside of this project, so I can only assume that this is generally how hi-tech dairies usually operate, and I have to be careful, because I also know that there are animal welfare issues in western countries about the way that dairy cows are milked, and I must confess to have no idea whether the dairies being installed in this project would conform to animal welfare standards in the UK, for example.

While I find out more on this – since it is important, not least because, in its way (without wishing to make any uncomfortable comparisons between women and cows!), since dairy cows are always female (although, I’ve learnt from our Vet, Greta, that there are bulls that give milk – interesting…), this is also a gender issue (!) – what is exciting me in the meantime is the way in which the dairies are computerised.

Basically the cattle are quite literally plugged into the computers! Brilliant! I just spent the summer writing my Master’s dissertation on ways in which we exist in ‘cyberspace’ following two main threads: one, that we can’t allow technology to convince us that we should, or can, leave behind our bodies (ideas which largely formed thanks to William Gibson’s science fiction) – that we need to think and exist through them (both our bodies, and technology) – and two, that no life-form – not Man and not anyone/thing – can stand in authority and isolation from the world and the rest of its inhabitants, because we are intrinsically, inseparably and multiply connected to everyone/thing else.

I wanted to further hint, even, that lifeforms catalogued as being part of ‘nature’ (as opposed to ‘human’), such as cows, for example, might be using those life-forms consigned to ‘human’ (us, in other words!) to converse and connect with life-forms consigned to ‘technology’, such as computers, for example, and vice versa, in acts that have much less to do with us (the humans!) than we’d like to think. And here, in the middle of Angola, we have cows connecting to machines and producing data, through milk (honestly, 'abject' theorists could have a ball ((or a bull!! - haha!..ahem...)) with this...!), to provide information for the computer – information the computer organises and then decides with the cow when it has produced enough milk for its plugs to disconnect! Fantastic!

And ok, obviously I’m aware that the information is ultimately for human purposes – but these purposes do not have to be the only ones. We cannot claim a monopoly on communication, connection and its messages. We cannot know, beyond the data we understand in our own languages, what information is passing through us without necessarily being for us…

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