Program or Be Programmed

The industrial age challenged us to rethink the limits of the human body: Where does my body end and the tool begin? The digital age challenges us to rethink the limits of the human mind: What are the boundaries of my cognition?

It’s tragically ironic that the tagline for Douglas Rushkoff’s book incorporates an Old Testament reference to the Ten Commandments, since Rushkoff writes in his introduction that the Jewish race has, since the time of Moses, merely promoted an “enduring myth” where the contents of those stone tablets is concerned.

Regardless, Rushkoff’s perspective is fascinating and worth some contemplation:

  • Are we just learning to use programs or are we learning to make programs?
  • Do we favor the distracted over the focused, the automatic over the considered, and the contrary over the compassionate? Why?
  • Do we merely grant our kids access to the capabilities given to them by others, or do we empower them to determine the value-creating capabilities of these technologies for themselves?
  • Do we pursue new abilities, or do we fetishize new toys?
  • Are we optimizing our machines for humanity, or are we optimizing humans for machinery?
  • Do we think and behave differently when operating different technology as we do given different settings?
  • Are we allowing computers and networks to discourage our more complex processes–our higher order cognition, contemplation, innovation, and meaning making–in addition to copying our intellectual processes (i.e. our repeatable programs)?

…and these are questions that arise after reading just the introductory chapter…

Apparently Rushkoff’s book grew from a short talk he has given on the subject, and there is substantial commentary to wade into just on the talk alone. [1][2]

Contemplation. Something that can all to easily become sacrificed on the altar of busyness. Something to fight for, protect and prize. Warmly embracing why.

Here’s to a 2011 that is more focused, considered and compassionate!