Douglas Rushkoff is widely considered to be one of most cutting-edge thinkers of our time. In his book, Program or Be Programmed, Rushkoff asks the question: Do we direct technology or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? BetterListen! is delighted to make a available a talk Rushkoff gave on his fascinating new book. Following is a transcribed excerpt from that talk which challenges us to think differently about the world around us.
What I see when I look at the history of culture and technology and computing, and media in particular, is I see occasional rare opportunities for civilization, the majority of people, to decide to participate in what’s going on. For people to actually become what in the sixties we used to call empowerment. For people to actually become empowered to exercise agency in their own affairs and in the world around them.
Then usually we let that opportunity go by. Either because -- and we don’t really know -- either because people just look at it and think it’s just too much work, it’s just too much responsibility, I really don’t want to know. Put me back in the matrix, boy, and don’t let me remember this ever happened. Or as I argued in Coercion, because there are kind of big bad institutions and mean guys who cover it up and take it away or make us afraid of it. That our hesitance to open our eyes, to put on the Hoffman glasses in “They Live” -- if you know that movie -- and see the programming all around you, that that’s because there are bad guys who don’t want us to get there. Either way, it’s a repeating cycle.