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Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age Paperback – September 6, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781593764265
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593764265
  • ASIN: 159376426X
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


Praise for Program or Be Programmed

"Now that much of what Rushkoff has predicted over the years has come to pass, he is uniquely qualified to write what may be one of the most important and instructive books of our times: Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. In it, he outlines ten different ideas that information technology is biased towards; biases that can cause discord in our lives. However, rather than predicting that the sky is falling, Rushkoff gives practical and actionable advice on how to turn those biases into advantages." —Wired

"Lucid and consequential . . . a subtle and substantiated call for (missing) humanity in networked daily life." —Neural.it

“Thinking twice about our use of digital media, what our practices are doing to us, and what we are doing to each other, is one of the most important priorities people have today—and Douglas Rushkoff gives us great guidelines for doing that thinking. Read this before and after you Tweet, Facebook, email or YouTube.” —Howard Rheingold

“Douglas Rushkoff is one of the great thinkers––and writers––of our time.” —Timothy Leary

“Rushkoff is damn smart. As someone who understood the digital revolution faster and better than almost anyone, he shows how the internet is a social transformer that should change the way your business culture operates.” —Walter Isaacson

“What’s the difference between being able to operate in the web, and being able to thrive there? The difference is in being able to understand the how and why of this new world. In ten chapters or commands, Douglas Rushkoff lays out how to live in this new world. Some of this advice will seem straightforward, some of it will need explanation, and some of it will seem more than a little counterintuitive. But all of it is delivered with verve and insight that makes you rethink your interactions on the web. Are you driving your life here, or only a passenger? If you want to get your hands on the wheel, this book is a good place to start.” —Daily Kos

“Rushkoff presents ten succinct commands for choosing our own destiny in the online era, ranging from Do Not Be Always On to Do Not Sell Your Friends. In the process, he presents a way we can actively leverage these technologies to build a more shareable world similar to the one we envision in our report The New Sharing Economy, as opposed to allowing our tools and those who create them to define the social constructs of the current era.” —Shareable.net

About the Author

World-renowned media theorist and counterculture figure Douglas Rushkoff is the originator of ideas such as “viral media,” “social currency” and “screenagers.” He has been at the forefront of digital society from its beginning, correctly predicting the rise of the net, the dotcom boom and bust, as well as today's financial crisis. He is a familiar voice on NPR, face on PBS, and writer in publications from Discover Magazine to the New York Times. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

More About the Author

Winner of the first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other's values. He sees "media" as the landscape where this interaction takes place, and "literacy" as the ability to participate consciously in it.

His ten best-selling books on new media and popular culture have been translated to over thirty languages. They include Cyberia, Media Virus, Playing the Future, Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism, and Coercion, winner of the Marshall Mcluhan Award for best media book. Rushkoff also wrote the acclaimed novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy and graphic novel, Club Zero-G. He has just finished a book for HarperBusiness, applying renaissance principles to today's complex economic landscape, Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out. He's now writing a monthly comic book for Vertigo called Testament.

He has written and hosted two award-winning Frontline documentaries - The Merchants of Cool looked at the influence of corporations on youth culture, and The Persuaders, about the cluttered landscape of marketing, and new efforts to overcome consumer resistance.

Rushkoff's commentaries air on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR's All Things Considered, and have appeared in publications from The New York Times to Time magazine. He wrote the first syndicated column on cyberculture for The New York Times and Guardian of London, as well as a column on wireless for The Feature and a new column for the music and culture magazine, Arthur.

Rushkoff founded the Narrative Lab at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and lectures about media, art, society, and change at conferences and universities around the world.

He is Advisor to the United Nations Commission on World Culture, on the Board of Directors of the Media Ecology Association, The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics, and as a founding member of Technorealism. He has been awarded Senior Fellowships by the Markle Foundation and the Center for Global Communications Fellow of the International University of Japan.

He regularly appears on TV shows from NBC Nightly News to Larry King and Bill Maher. He is writing a new monthly comic book for Vertigo, and developed the Electronic Oracle software series for HarperCollins Interactive.

Rushkoff is on the board of several new media non-profits and companies, and regularly consults on new media arts and ethics to museums, governments, synagogues, churches, and universities, as well as Sony, TCI, advertising agencies, and other Fortune 500 companies.

Rushkoff graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts, a post-graduate fellowship (MFA) from The American Film Institute, and a Director's Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He has worked as a certified stage fight choreographer, and as keyboardist for the industrial band PsychicTV.

He lives in Park Slope Brooklyn with his wife, Barbara, and daughter Mamie.

Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this book for anyone working in a technology related field.
mark a mace
I will admit that I am probably not the reader the author had in mind when writing this book, but what a waste of a read.
E. Rozman
The most controversial point in this book is Rushkoff's tenth commandment, Learn How to Program.
Steven Forth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Brent Finnegan on December 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I haven't read Rushkoff's other books (although I might go back and read Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back).

Program or be Programmed is a quick read. I read it on the Kindle my wife got me for Christmas. The irony of reading a book about the pitfalls and possibilities of technology we don't fully understand on a device I don't fully understand was not lost on me.

I would describe this as an "Internet philosophy book" that might fit on the bookshelf somewhere between Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning...was the Command Line and Jeff Jarvis' What Would Google Do? But I found Program to be even more thoughtful and succinct than those books.

Quote from the book: "Instead of learning about our technology, we opt for a world in which our technology learns about us."

Rushkoff has proposed ten ideas/concepts/considerations for principles to live by online. He starts with the obvious -- don't always be online, live in person, be yourself -- and builds to the not-so-obvious. By numbers nine and ten, he's making the case for doing away with centralized currency because it's not compatible with the new digital world we've created.

The most intriguing aspect of Rushkoff's worldview is the realization that "we the people" have always been one step behind the technological innovation of the age.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Nathan P. Gilmour on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To explain how I came across this book, I have to make a confession: since my family doesn't subscribe to cable television, the only time my kids or I watch cable TV (or much TV at all, really) is when we're on the road, visiting family or otherwise. My son, predictably gravitates to Disney and the Cartoon Network, but I'm a C-SPAN man. And when CSPAN-2 has Book TV, I'm watching it. So guess when and where I saw Douglas Rushkoff interviewed about his new book. That's right. When I can watch anything on cable television, I go to Book TV.

Confession out of the way, what makes this book worthy of the Neil Postman Award that it won (I just learned that such an award exists) is its refusal to let any digital technology become transparent, something that's a mere window through which we see the world as the world happens to be. From the first Arpanet connections to email to the ubiquitous vibrating phones (and accompanying "phantom phone buzz syndrome"), Rushkoff keeps his sharp eye on the assumptions that one has to make before the technology makes any sense: that one should adjust one's personal biological rhythms to the atemporal "always on" existence of computer networks rather than vice versa; that the world should conform its complexity to the reductionism of binary choices; and that human beings are meant to exist as infinitesimal nodes in a vast global network, just to name three. Spelling out those assumptions, Rushkoff does not so much give ten commands as ask ten penetrating questions, questions that ought to haunt human beings as we jump on board the Internet train.

Why ten commands, then?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Page on January 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
In "Program or Be Programmed" Douglas Rushkoff argues for the need of people to be aware of the implications of transitioning into the digital age, and he urges readers to gain technical literacy in order to maintain control over their lives and foster opportunities for innovation. In ten commandments, he directs attention to the biases of digital technologies and the resulting negative and positive outcomes. Following a compact introduction, he breaks up his argument into concise and articulate justifications that culminate in a prompt to learn to program.

Rushkoff's book is filled with one-line zingers that summarize critical issues of debate regarding digital technologies with such eloquence that Larry Lessig and maybe even Evgeny Morozov would applaud (though Morozov would vehemently shake his head in disagreement with Rushkoff's optimistic outlook). As a student in an interdisciplinary major called Science, Technology, and Society, which mixes computer science and communication courses, I found myself nodding along with Rushkoff and occasionally vocalizing agreement at my computer screen. At one or two instances I sat puzzled wondering if he believes that he is Morpheus from "The Matrix" and that I, the reader, am the One.

There are many issues surrounding digital media--far more than a single author can provide full insight on. Rushkoff's work is interesting in that I can see it as a useful resource for a student just delving into these issues for the first time, and as a useful resource for a student who is familiar with issues touched upon in this book. It is a work of breadth rather than depth. Rushkoff jams statements into a concise synopsis that can be unpacked on many levels. It is a great starting point and roadmap.
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