Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

iPads & Rushkoff

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Okay, so far, I’ve only had two voters in the “Should Turbo Buy an iPad” contest.

It’s 50/50 so far leaning towards don’t do it.

And that’s good, because I wasn’t.  I’ve been burned too many times on 1st gen tech buys.

I’m going to let the “crowd” work out the kinks, let Apple fix the breakage, wait for a 30% price drop, and then get me some new Apple luvin’.

And anyway, after hearing Doug Rushkoff’s keynote talk to help kick start SXSW Interactive this PM, I’m thinking everything old is new again.  Or was that the other way around?

Rushkoff has been a new media soothsayer since before new media was cool.  And he looks like he’s been there, done that (Excuse me while I go check myself in the mirror.)

I don’t want to scare you or anything, but his prognosis seemed pretty grim.  Only now the bad borg ain’t IBM or Microsoft, it’s Google or Facebook, and digital currency could very well “do to central banking what Craig’s List did to classified advertising.”

What, you mean, like, make it really, really cheap?

The title of his talk was “Program or Be Programmed.” I guess I’m in deep doo doo, because I can’t even program my DVR.

Rushkoff started his talk reminsicing about how going online was once akin to dropping acid, and that it would let us change the world however we wanted.

Now, anybody who can go online does so with near triviality.

When I look at economy, the world, government, Rushkoff explained, I feel we are attempting to operate our society on obsolete software.  Legacy systems to legacies we don’t even remember now (including that Y2K COBOL code from 1999??)

His point wasn’t literal, but rather universal, and the idea that we have societal software around the globe but particularly in the U.S. that is completely inappropriate to whatever it is we want to get done.

If we don’t understand THESE programs, he explained, then we don’t stand a chance of recognizing those programs.

They were built atop of the economy, our current government, etc., and if we can’t see through this we can’t see through them.

There’s a fatalism, an automaticness, a doom, an inevitably to whatever is coming and that seems to polarize us into two camps. It’s the beginning of the world and the end of the world.

What I believe, Rushkoff explained, was that we won’t know until we understand how our technologies work, and work on us?

If you are not one of the programmers, you are one of the programmed.  And with that, he launched into his new 10 commands.

  1. Thou shalt not be always on. If we stay always on, we’ll fry our nervous systems.
  2. Thou shalt not do from a distance that which can be done in person. There’s now a fetishism of these devices where we’re using long distance technologies in short distance situations.
  3. Exalt the particular. Not everything needs to scale.
  4. You may always choose none of the above. Everything digital is discrete, everything a choice. Digital activities are on a landscape of forced choice (Facebook: Single, Married, In a relationship…the problem is when you use things that compel certain kinds of choices, and you start to think that those choices are the preexisting conditions of the universe. They are actually conditions of the programs that you use.
  5. Thou shalt never be completely right. The net reduces complexity. Wikipedia seems complex these days, but in the old days, using an encyclopedia was reductionist and simplistic. In 10 years, 2nd life will be indistinguishable from reality…Philip Rosedale. Kids raised on MP3 have 20% less of the sonic qualities that we recognize. The outcomes then are no longer totally of reality.
  6. Thou shalt not be anonymous. Out of body. Really bad for community and the social contract. We end up becoming parts of polarized angry mobs with no sense of consequence for our actions. Desocialized, tend towards alienization.
  7. Remember the humans. Content is not king in a communications environment. Google v. Murdoch. It’s okay not to deliver what/everything you do stripped out of context. Promotes derivative values from intrinsic ones.
  8. Thou shalt not steal. When there’s no social contract, Openness can continue until there’s nothing left for anybody to give away.
  9. Program or be programmed. We are end users, meaning consumers. Either create software or you are the software. We lend or borrow or live in a world as a result of our refusal to program or be programmed. Rushkoff learned BASIC, today they learn MS Office. The further you keep the coder and the user away from one another, the better. We celebrate our newfound agency in the digital age but we remain one step behind our programmers. I am still profoundly hopeful (not optimistic) that new media poses to society.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2010 at 12:15 am

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