Douglas Rushkoff – Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

Douglas Rushkoff

OR Books, ISBN: 978-1935928157, 140 pages, 2010, English
In the early days of digital networks there was a set of social conventions, called Netiquette, meant to facilitate interaction over networks (they were even codified in an official Internet Engineering Task Force document: RFC 1855). The time/space coordinates of the new medium (the network) were causing various embarrassing communication problems among online users, so the rules were compiled as a resource. Two decades later and the situation is more intricate. Time/space coordinates have radically changed again thanks to new, powerful mobile technology and to the ubiquitous networks they connect to. The almost vanished borders between our online and offline life is compelling evidence. The ten “commands” written in this book about time, place, choice, complexity, scale, identity, social, fact, openness and purpose, are in fact ten small but dense, coherent and exquisitely written chapters. Rushkoff is, as always, lucid and consequential, and here he’s been able to write a subtle and substantiated call for (missing) humanity in networked daily life. He accomplishes it through recognizing digital media biases and finding ways to balance them effectively. In this process he never forgets to emphasize computer programming and the crucial role of software. In fact, the original utopia of networked communication has still some unexpressed potential. We should definitively stop using machines to “program one another” and better understand how machines work now and how to program them to work for us.