Excerpt 2 from A Talk Based on "Program or Be Programmed" by Douglas Rushkoff


Douglas Rushkoff Program or Be Programmed Douglas Rushkoff -- -- winner of the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity -- challenges us once again to not take the world around us for granted in this talk based on Program or Be Programmed: 10 Commands for a Digital Age.  The following transcribed excerpt outlines the basis for this phenomenal book.

The talk itself, it may seem off the topic of this book Program or Be Programmed. It begins with me very concerned about the nature of democracy. And I had just reread the letters back and forth between John Dewey and Ed Bernays, who really was a great educational advocate and really the founder of public relations, looking at whether democracy is possible.
The reason it’s not off track as a conversation is what their conversation is really about is whether human beings are capable of understanding the world that they live in.

Whether we the people, we the masses, we the regular people, can be trusted with the fate of our nation, with the fate of our world. And one of these guys thought not and the other one really thought not also, but that with proper education that maybe we would get there. That if the news media was changed, if the technologies through which we learned were changed, that maybe human beings could be brought to the place where we could vote intelligently, where we could have a democracy not just for the people but by the people. One that we enact ourselves.
That’s really what the book Program or Be Programmed and this whole line of thought for me is about. What I’m trying to do is encourage people to think of themselves as intelligent enough to understand the programs in the world around them, and I don’t just mean the computer programs. I mean every program. Look at the streets in the city you live. Is it a grid pattern? Who made it a grid pattern and why? Look at the money you use. Look at the religion that you believe in or don’t believe in. Look at the church you go to. Look at the school your kids go to. All of these things, all of these worlds have been designed by people with very particular agendas in mind, from the one way sign down your street, to the accreditation of the university you go to, to the card you use to punch the clock, to the way you money is extracted from your paycheck.
These are all things that aren’t just parts of nature. These are things that were designed by people with purpose. And as you start to see the world embedded with purpose rather than just some preexisting condition, you realize that all of these systems are up for discussion, that any one of them can be changed or they can be remade in a way that’s more consistent with your values.

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