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Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
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Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  945 ratings  ·  131 reviews
The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: it’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, ...more
Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published (first published November 1st 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,325)
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Stephany
First, the good. Rushkoff makes important points, and I thought the best were made in the final chapter that bears the title of the book. Rushkoff breathes new life into the importance of controlling the means of production. Unlike other tools (the woodworking hand tools and knitting needles of which I am so very fond, for instance) software is programmed. Well, obviously. But this matters because programming is a process; the code we use in the form of software is the end result of a particular ...more
Marc Weidenbaum
This book definitely makes more sense when read alongside the recent ones by Kevin Kelly and by Jaron Lanier. Like them, it's something of a correction on the tech-evangelism that has marked much of its author's earlier works. If Lanier's is a rangy diatribe, and Kelly's a concertedly developed argument, Rushkoff's is a list: it's 10 ideas, laid out plainly for a common reader. The last of these 10 ideas ("commands," a joke on the 10 commandments), the one from which the book takes its title, is ...more
Pam
The ideas in this book are 5 star worthy though the execution a 3 but the ideas are very important, so worth the read. Each of us as well as humanity need to have a deliberate relationship with technology, Rushkoff argues. Let us be clear Rushkoff is no crackpot he is degreed, learned, and thoughtful (his bio - http://www.rushkoff.com/about/). He definitively makes the argument that the debate over the societal value of the internet and technology is irrelevant (he states the obvious, “it is her ...more
Cori
I'm not sure what I expected of this book, but it was less technical then I thought it was going to be. It is a quick read with a number of thoughtful anecdotes. Some of the "commands" seemed like etiquette lessons for a digital age, but overall I thought the book was insightful.

I found the last two commands, Openness and Purpose, the most interesting. If his motivation for writing this book was to spark more of an interest in programming he has succeeded with me!

One of his strongest points was
...more
Ashley
In this book Douglas Rushkoff not only discusses what it means to be a participant in this new, fast-paced digital world, but he also outlines ten rules (or "commandments" as he calls them) for for us to use so we don't get swept off our feet in media streams. Rushkoff takes his time delving into the possible repercussions of Time, Place, Choice, Complexity, Scale, Identity, Social, Fact, Openness, and Purpose.

Rushkoff begins his chapter by defining what he calls the "computer biases" concerning
...more
Rob
Dec 12, 2011 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: Amy
Shelves: 2011, philosophy

Right from the first page, Douglas Rushkoff's book Program or Be Programmed reminded me of Nicholas Carr's, The Shallows [1] -- only with a broader scope and more buzzwords and a less gloomy appraisal of the subject. I read The Shallows last year, and though it was interesting, it was also overly dramatic, and was too timid in its speculations -- and thus it failed to draw fully-baked conclusions or make substantive predictions. We walk away with Carr's Neural Doomsday:

The price we pay to assu
...more
Tamas Kalman
A thought-provoking starting with a much more conservative approach as a resolution. I'd love to see more futuristic and modern approaches to resolve the challenges which are segmented in this book instead of trying to eliminate these problems which in my eyes aren't really problems but challenges and options which we can adapt and use for our own development and purposes. Although this book can be useful for anyone who is new to these subjects and might be even inspirational.
Eiki
Dear God this is an awful book: obvious, tedious, puffed up with empty words and self-importance. If "Ten Commands for a Digital Age" sounds like the title of a blog post to you, that's because it should have been one: there's just about enough ideas and specific examples here to sustain a longish blog post, no more.

Reading this short-but-not-short-enough book in its entirety has been like chewing through a loaf of damp white-bread trying to get to one tasty chocolate chip buried in the middle.
...more
Dani
First of all, I had to read this book for a communications course and I wasn't expecting to enjoy it, so perhaps I was already biased. (I did love the course, though, so maybe that evens it out? Oh well, irrelevant.)

Overall, I thought that Rushkoff made his point in each chapter within just a few sentences, and the rest was all just fluff. He seemed to write the same things over and over again, just using different words. The book wasn't long by any means, but it definitely could have been much
...more
Kim Pallister
I headed into Douglas Rushkoff's book expecting it to like it. I've read some of his writing and find I agree with some of his major ideas. As the title of the book implies, it centers around the idea that the more of our lives we place in the hands of technology, the more important it is that we understand how the underlying tech works, and if necessary, be capable of changing it.

However, I was quite disappointed with the book. While some of his ideas are along the right lines, he sort of circl
...more
Eric Phetteplace
Rushkoff gives a concise & accessible introduction to so many issues of our digital era, from filter bubbles to social media to copyright. The book offers several commandments for living a healthier life & taking advantage of computers. In sum, ways to make computers useful to you rather than bending to their will. It would make us a better society if everyone was forced to read it in junior high.
All of that said, I found some of Rushkoff's contentions a bit strained (the fact that binar
...more
Measie
Highly recommended. A quick read, but thought-provoking.

I bought this book partially because I was interested in the way it was published. The author deliberately chose to publish with a small, independent publisher and to sell the book through the publisher's website only. He promoted it through Boing Boing and other sites. The price was a bit steep for such a small book, but I was happy to know that more of the money was going to the creator and an independent business, rather than a big corp
...more
Yitzchok Lowy
I have long been thinking about the shifts that digital medias have been creating in life and society, in many contexts. One of the major questions i always had was if the use of ifferent tools or media for communication and other tasks really makes a difference in the human aspect of it, or is it just the same book in a different cover. I have mostly been on the side that it's all the same same, only peope get disorientated from seeing the same things in a different setting.

Rushkoff introduces
...more
Sean Murnin
Program or Be Programmed has changed my mind about the internet of 2010. It use to be that we'd have to go to work or the library to access our personal email and newsgroups. We were not always plugged in or have to be, it was not even an option. Rushkoff's winning argument is the internet was more fun and manageable back 10-20 years ago, i agree. It seems the particular people who would tend to read this book are relatively safe from being victimized, overgamed and overmarketed to, compared wit ...more
Mat
Not so much a treatise on coding, more a sociological examination of the effects of the internet.

Here are some quotes:

Political organizers who believed the Internet would consolidate their constituencies find that net petitions and self-referential blogging now serve as substitutes for action.

A news media that saw in information networks new opportunities for citizen journalism and responsive, twenty-four-hour news gathering has grown sensationalist, unprofitable, and devoid of useful facts.

[T]h
...more
Johan
Disappointing. Less than 10% of the book is about "program or be programmed". It is not that the essays (the ten commands) have no worth, but I was expecting a book about the technology side of technology, about programming, hacking, the internet of things, makers, home automation, security, encryption, education, ... I was not expecting essays on sociology, marketing, philosophy, the ways we communicate, ... and some grandfatherly advice from someone who was there when it was still dial up mode ...more
Gregory Kaplan
To the point about technology having a "mind" or bias of its own. Yet media has always had these biases: compressing space, extending time, de-personalizing, etc. Now faster and more extensively. I'm still not sure what programming of code has to do with "programming" of a social nature.
Bryan
I have no idea why I forced myself to finish this substance-less punditry. It gets two stars because it has a list of good beginning programming resources in the back, and the book might be a good text for high school media studies or technology class.
George Slade
This is not a large book, about 3 to 4 hours worth of reading; but the message in it can be very important, if you understand what he is trying to say. A lot of the details and examples in this book also appear in his other book, Present Shock; but what this book is about is realizing that we have a unique choice, when it comes to computers. Unlike previous revolutions in technology, such as language, the printing press, or the television, with computers, we have the opportunity to actually shap ...more
Kip
Reasoning isn't always clear as crystal or solid as a rock, but he adds new dimensions to things I was already largely in agreement with and inspires some change in my passive approach to digital life.
Hannah G
Despite the Orwellian overtones of his title, Rushkoff makes some incisive and pessimistic assessments of the state of the Internet, according to me anyhow, and generalizes the horrors (balanced with some bright spots) among its current societal effects very well.

His vision of how we the human collective can better steer and reform this technology through actually understanding how it "works" (is coded) is an interesting and compelling one; the book is well written, and entertainingly construct
...more
Ken27701
Really disappointed in this one, as I love and believe in the titular idea. The contents are a series of pronouncements which, IMHO, don't really stand up to scrutiny.
Jeff Wyonch
While this is a good general discussion of computer trends and literacy, it left me a little cold. While I think he has a generally good handle on his topic, I think he's wrong about many specific points. Rushkoff is rooted in the computer culture that matured on the west coast long before the home computer revolution really took off, and that culture is reflected here as what computer culture ought to be everywhere, which it isn't. I think it's worth a read as a general introduction, but I woul ...more
Zulu Adams
A very lucid and convincing argument for the digital age. The book essentially boils down to a series of essays, and perhaps might be deemed to lightweight as a book for some readers, but I thought it was the perfect length. Rushkoff gets to the point and explains his reasoning, and it's pretty difficult to disagree with most of what he says.

Although much of the content might inspire some pessimism, Rushkoff keeps the focus on how we can stop ourselves blindly walking into losing our humanity. I
...more
Bryce
A colleague recommended this book right before the holidays and I got a copy from the library and just finished reading it a few days ago. This should be mandatory reading for everyone living in the modern age. It is instructive, cautionary and inspiring. Not to mention an engaging and fast read!

In a series of ten concise chapters, each on a different them of technology and our relationship to it, Douglas Rushkoff provides a very compelling work that is equal parts Strunk & White and revolut
...more
Psuke
I love the brevity of this little book...and aside from the bit on "be who you are" (the anonymous/pseudonymous debate has been *done to death* so I won't add to it here) I agreed with the opinions expressed. Similar is tone to Jaron's "You Are Not a Gadget", I liked this better both a) for it's brevity and b) because it offered more solutions than explanations. I don't need an anti-online/anti-computer argument - it's preaching to the choir in my case - so the suggestions and pieces of advice w ...more
Gary Schroeder
Worried about the effect that ever expanding information technologies are having on global culture, our personal lives and how we interact with one another? Well, Douglas Rushkoff is (and if you’re not, you either haven’t been paying attention or you’re too young to remember the pre-internet world). “Program or Be Programmed” offers some timely reflections on the state of what’s happening to us now. Maybe future readers will look back and laugh...or maybe they’ll look back and say at least someo ...more
Kami
This is a great and not-too-weighty book encapsulating a topic I consider particularly important: the need for us to understand the inner workings of our computers, at least deeply enough that we can use them to create our own computer-driven tools instead of relying on the tools that others build.

Rushkoff coherently points out how our brains and lives are changed by the tools and paradigms that we develop. He also shows the sequence of examples from our history of paradigm-shifting inventions t
...more
Kaye
Aug 15, 2011 Kaye rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kaye by: Meg Backus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chad Bullard
Jun 26, 2013 Chad Bullard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone, especially new to computers
Recommended to Chad by: Professor Nosratallah Nezafati
If you have never programmed a computer before, then after reading Douglas Rushkoff’s “Program Or Be Programmed Ten Commands For A Digital Age” you will be compelled to consider it. I have never written my own programs before, but I have been interested in doing it. Now that I have read Douglas Rushkoff’s book I feel even more compelled than ever.
This book is easy to read and goes into describing the biases built into the software that computers use. The only real way to resolve these biases is
...more
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80801
Douglas Rushkoff is a New York-based writer, columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture.
More about Douglas Rushkoff...
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“Our digital experiences are out of body. This biases us toward depersonalised behaviour in an environment where one’s identity can be a liability. But the more anonymously we engage with others, the less we experience the human repercussions of what we say and do. By resisting the temptation to engage from the apparent safety of anonymity, we remain accountable and present - and are much more likely to bring our humanity with us into the digital realm” 7 likes
“Our enthusiasm for digital technology about which we have little understanding and over which we have little control leads us not toward greater agency, but toward less...We have surrendered the unfolding of a new technological age to a small elite who have seized the capability on offer. But while Renaissance kings maintained their monopoly over the printing press by force, today's elite is depending on little more than our own disinterest.” 3 likes
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