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Touching Objects or Being in (Un)Touch |
Walter Mignolo

Thoughts on modernity/coloniality, geopolitics of knowledge, border thinking, pluriversality, and the decolonial option.

Touching Objects or Being in (Un)Touch

1.- There are distinctions like “First World” and “Third World” that if you mention them today, you receive an ironic look, if that at all. More polite interlocutors would say something like “I see what you mean, but don’t you think that this distinction is not longer valid, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the advent of neo-liberalism”? Perhaps “First” and “Third” words do not “exist” any more, although it seems to me that some kind of reflection is necessary to understand the sensibilities and beliefs like the one you can see in these two YT:



2.- I suppose you could say that the world is moving in the direction of  touching objects and being disconnected with yourself and your body. But still calling that “Connecting.” Alienating perhaps? But true, progress is “progress” and on the name of progress sacrifices are necessary, and you can sacrifice anything in the name of progress.

And, of course, the point I am raising is not to allow youngsters in the street of Peru (first YT) to enjoy the marvels of technological connections. No, the point I am making is this: look at both YT and reflect on what kind of persons you see in each of them. I would like to say that progress and the future is announced the YT of street dancers in Peru. However, the majority would think that I am wrong, that it is the reverse: those kids in the street of Peru shall be brought up to “connecting” in the manner of the no-more “First World” people do.

Why I think so? Because I see Vania Masia’s project empowering, while I find interaction design disempowering, but good business.  I know that the leaders of interaction designs will disagree with me. And that is again the point: how is it the interaction with objects displace the interaction between people. When you loose direct connection with living organism and replace them with dead objects, it is easier to loose concern from living organisms.

You become oblivious of the no longer valid distinction between “First” and “Third” worlds. You forget that in order to have those wonderful experiences with objects that separate people (“I can do many things while talking with you, Younghee Jung observes”) while they are facing each other, you have not to ask question of the cost involved in doing business by alienating people. And I am not talking about money when I mention “cost”, I am talking about life, living organisms dying to have the possibility of certain human beings to get in touch with objects.






3 responses to “Touching Objects or Being in (Un)Touch”

  1. pnts says:

    As an interaction designer, of course I disagree! I think you need to be more rigorous in your understanding of what interaction design is, and be able to separate that out from the techno-capitalism that you talk about as disempowering.

    I’m submitting another video for you to consider, a video of a “silent rave” that took place a few years ago in New York. Hundreds of people joining together to dance, but instead of large and expensive sound systems, all the dancers are listening to the same song via headphones. Is this the same face of disempowering interaction design that you saw in the first video?


  2. pnts says:

    Another video to watch as you consider interaction design is 21 Balançoires:


  3. walter says:

    Thanks for responding and for sending the Vimeo on Canada’s 21 Balançoires. If you compare this experience with the narrative of Touching Objects, you would better see my point. I was not critiquing interactive design per se, but the uses of it. Like in any other sphere of society, today, there is a two side story. Pharmaceutical, for example, could be use to cure people and to make money at the expenses of people. The problem is that both uses are today entangled in such a way that is difficult to tell them apart. The same with Human Rights, to give you an example in a different realm of human and social experience. Human Rights could be use to save people lives, or to justify Humanitarian Interventions: that is, to violate Human Rights to implement Human Rights. In Touching Objects, instead, the main trust of the narrative consists in praising getting people out of touch and going by numbers: 5 billions people means that some thing is good without parenthesis.

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