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Douglas Rushkoff – Team Human – book excerpt – Spirituality

Modernity is not particularly conducive to awe. We are painfully disconnected from the larger cycles of day, night, moon, and season, making it harder for us to witness or identify with the inspiring renewal all around us. Spirituality has become less of a state of being than yet another goal to attain in the future. […]

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Political Psychology: The Illusion of Choice and Response to the 2016 Election

By Douglas Rushkoff I know this has been a rough time for a lot of you, and I hope you are doing well. In brief: Yes, there has been a major electoral upheaval, and it seems there are many confused people out there working under some pretty strange assumptions. But no, this isn’t as much […]

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Program or Be Programmed with Douglas Rushkoff (Excerpt 2)

We are delighted to offer another transcribed excerpt from Douglas Rushkoff's mind-expanding book Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. In this book -- and this excerpt -- Rushkoff challenges us to take control of we interact with the ever evolving world of digital technology.

The way people approach me about this problem is they will say, “Well look, I know how to drive a car but I’m not an auto mechanic and I’m fine with that. When my car breaks, I’ll take it to the auto mechanic. I’ll take it to the garage.” Or the dealer at this point because people don’t trust the garage anymore. That’s another story. Take it back to the branded dealer and let them fix it. But I’m not talking about the difference between an auto mechanic and an automobile driver. I’m talking about the difference between an automobile driver and an automobile passenger.



The computer… the way to use a computer is not just to be taken around by it. The way to use a computer is to express what you want through the computer. I’m not asking you to take it apart and fix the power supply and fix the screen and make the processors function better or do heat dissipation on the processor which is too big for the case. That’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m asking you to know how to use the keyboard to make programs so that you look at the computer as this anything machine.
 
It’s like… think of the computer as if it were a robot. You could be just, you know, Dr. Smith on Lost in Space, and listen to what the robot does. Or you could be Will Robinson and get in there and make the robot do the things you want. So if you have a robot and you think, “Well shoot, wouldn’t it be cool if this robot could plant my grass this year or start a fire in the fireplace?” The way you get it to do that is by telling the robot to do that. That’s what your computer is capable of. Your computer can do the things that you want. Your smart phone can do the things you want.
 
On the other hand, if you are content to be a passenger, think about what that would mean in a car. I mean, sure for Miss Daisy, she’s too old to drive. Her glasses don’t work. She never learned. Fine. She’ll be driven around by her driver. But for you -- do you want that to be your relationship to roads, to place, to map? That you have a driver? And what if the driver is not somebody you hire but some corporation who you don’t know? If you say “I want to go to a nice inexpensive restaurant” and it just takes you to McDonald’s all the time, how do you know another restaurant exists if your driver is depending on that company? You could look out the window, sure, but what if they are taking you on a route where you don’t even get to see the alternatives?

 

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Program or Be Programmed with Douglas Rushkoff

Program Or Be Programmed With it being Audio Book month, we are delighted to offer the Audio Book version of Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age by Douglas Rushkoff on BetterListen!  Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution, says that we should “Read this book [Program or Be Programmed] before and after you Tweet, Facebook, email, or YouTube.”  We agree.  Following is a transcribed excerpt from this fascinating book, read by Rushkoff himself.

When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak.  When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. As we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them. In the emerging highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple. Program or be programmed. Choose the former and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter and it could be the last real choice you get to make.

For while digital technologies are in many ways a natural outgrowth of what went before, they are also markedly different. Computers and networks are more than mere tools. They are like living things themselves. Unlike a rake, a pen, or even a jackhammer, a digital technology is programmed. This means it comes with instructions not just for its use but also for itself. As such technologies come to characterize the future of the way we live and work, the people programming them take on an increasingly important role in shaping our world and how it works. After that, it’s the digital technologies themselves that will be shaping our world both with and without our explicit cooperation.
 
That’s why this moment matters. We are creating a blueprint together. A design for our collective future. The possibilities for social, economic, practical, artistic, and even spiritual progress are tremendous. Just as words gave people the ability to pass on knowledge for what we now call civilization, networked activity could soon offer us access to shared thinking, an extension of consciousness still inconceivable to most of us today. The operating principals of commerce and culture from supply and demand to command and control could conceivably give way to an entirely more engaged, connected and collaborative mode of participation. But so far anyway, too many of us are finding our digital networks responding unpredictably or even opposed to our intentions.

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