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Nature’s Brand Names

Rick Ganley

Why do products cloak themselves in natural imagery and metaphor? The auto industry has long co-opted Nature nouns: Falcons, Jaguars, Cougars, Impalas, Mustangs and Rams…

With more and more references to "The Cloud", I see electronic technology and products also co-opt their language…. from Nature. There are "Apples" and "Blackberries" on desks and in cubicles of high-rise urban office towers. People "Tweet" on "Twitter".  You can hire a "Survey Monkey" or a "Mail Chimp!"Computers suffer cyber-ailments ranging from "viruses" to "worms." With an "I-Pod," catch the latest "Podcast" - but not pea-pods nor pods of whales. Ideologies are debated in the airy "Blog-o-sphere" or woven into silken strands of the "worldwide web."

Do our electronic gadgets connect us back to our roots in Nature? Is the camouflage of natural imagery somehow less threatening; an "E-wolf" in "I-sheep’s" clothing?  Even more sinister - are soft Nature themes intended to "green-wash" products whose rare-earth minerals and production footprints degrade natural areas?

Or maybe Nature references provide subliminal comfort; like faint echoes of our Mother Earth's heartbeat? Harvard Ecologist, E.O. Wilson's "Biophilia" hypothesis argues that evolutionary history spawns innate human craving for nature. Paradoxically, we express love for all things natural in the naming of all things technological. We crave connections to the outdoors even as our bus

y modern lives lead us further indoors.

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