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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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Excerpt 2 from A Talk Based on "Life Inc." by Douglas Rushkoff

DouglasRushkoff-BL In this excerpt from a talk based on Douglas Rushkoff's book Life Inc.: How Corporatism Conquered the World and How We Can Take it Back, Rushkoff challenges the notion of what is free online and elsewhere, and how corporations conspire to charge for it all.  Rushkoff is widely considered one of the most cutting-edge thinkers of our time, especially regarding the digital revolution.

Here is one of their conferences. It was a conference called “Free Economy” and what they were looking at was something that a lot of people have been talking about -- this notion that on the internet everything wants to become free, and what happens is things become more and more free, and in reaction to the kinds of books like Free written by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine or The New Rules of the New Economy written by Kevin Kelly. This whole notion that everything is going to become free online as information is passed around and here is what you can do about it. So as I see it, this whole notion of free, this whole world that they brought people to come in and speak about, is really not about free. For business people, what this is about is how do we figure out how to still charge for stuff that’s free.
 
In other words, how do we not accept and push through and embrace this tremendous revolution and value creation and value exchange that the net has wrought, but rather how do we resist it? So when I look at the assortment of my colleagues, if you will, the great cyber thinkers, who are out there lecturing on economics these days. They pretend to be lecturing and sharing on how to embrace the revolution when actually what they are doing are sharing the most reactionary approaches to a world where things are becoming free, but they are not teaching companies, people, and businesses how to survive in and embrace what is going on. They are teaching them how to resist, how to hang on to the old economy in the face of a new economic order rather than how to maintain sustainable business practices in a new economic order.

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Excerpt 1 from "Program or Be Programmed" by Douglas Rushkoff

Program Or Be Programmed
 We are delighted to offer the audiobook 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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