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Digital Catfish and Technological Ritual: Experimental Rites through Earthquake Early Warning in Japan

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Lee, Kangwon

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Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University
Korean Anthropology Review, Vol.5 No., pp. 121-151
This article highlights the life surrounded by devices generated through association between humans and devices, by analyzing the process through which the Japanese Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) System was established. Focusing on the catfish logo designs on EEW posters and devices, I explain how the propositional feeling, affect, information, and emotion are organically connected. I seek to emphasize the fact that living (survival, livelihood, life, and ecology) is comprised of the connection of devices, and as such, I propose that technological ritual and experimental rite are two concepts that explain how to live surrounded by devices. The first proposition of this article is catfish know before the quake comes. The Japanese EEW service was launched in 2007, emphasizing an alternative approach to mitigation of earthquake disasters by means of a warning system that knows before the quake comes. Entities in the network are mediated through devices that act as digital catfish and constitute a unity that is co-affected by a feeling of possibility. The second proposition is catfish restore world order. The process by which the world order is restored is through differences borne out of the continued repetitions of certain rituals. I have named this process technological ritual. Each time an earthquake occurs, an EEW is issued. The EEW may be transferred from one place to another through the formalization of different entities actions. The experiments in technological rituals mediated by digital catfish go beyond mere demonstration, as they seek to test out a new world.
2508-8297 (Print)
2671-7123 (Online)
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