Program or Be Programmed

Program or Be Programmed

Ten Commands for A Digital Age

Book - 2011
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The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: It's here; it's everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? "Choose the former," writes Rushkoff, "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."

In ten chapters, composed of ten "commands" accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyber enthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe.

In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age--and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.

Publisher: Berkeley, CA : Soft Skull Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9781593764265
Branch Call Number: 303.4833/RUSHKOFF
Characteristics: 155 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.
Additional Contributors: Purvis, Leland


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JCLChrisK Sep 13, 2013

Though a short, little book, this is dense with good information and ideas. The title might lead you to expect that information to be technical and only for those already conversant in computer code, but that's not the case at all. It's not really about programming so much as it is about an ethics of digital media use. It's about how to use our digital technology as tools that we control instead of letting it dictate the terms of use--and our habits, perceptions, and thoughts--to us. To do so, we have to understand just what the tools are and how they work, which means grasping at least the logic and structures of the underlying programming. So if you want to accomplish command six--Identity: Be Yourself--for instance, you will be more successful if you understand that digital technologies are biased toward depersonalization; you need to understand how the technology creates the dynamic if you want to reverse it to have more civil, engaging, humane, and ethical digital interactions. It's all about knowing how to be in charge of the technology instead of vice versa.
While not earth-shattering, I definitely found this book insightful. It's helped me articulate some feelings I only vaguely understood and opened my eyes to some new thoughts. He's able to communicate effectively and concisely without getting dry or technical. I can't remember what article or video or reference brought Rushkoff to my attention, but I thought all of his books sounded interesting and decided to start with the shortest one to verify that impression; after reading this, I'll be going to back to look into the others.


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