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Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,687 ratings  ·  174 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
Paperback, 152 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by OR Books
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Stephany Wilkes
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 - 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 here to stay so move on,” in such a ...more
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: Amy
Shelves: philosophy, 2011

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 assume technology's power is alienation.

Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 stronges
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
As someone who is primarily interested in social media’s influence on us, the chapters ‘Time’ (Do not always be on), ‘Place’ (Live in person) and ‘Complexity’ (You are never completely right) really struck a chord. However, I found the other chapters thought provoking for aspects of the digital age that I haven’t much explored or thought about.

However I take issue with Rushkoff’s main point: Learn coding to throw off the shackles of the oppressor and shape the narrative of the digita
Sep 06, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.
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 hav
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Insightful and deep reflection on the way we could/should evolve our behaviour to maintain control of the digital evolution. The principles are here, but read the book:
TIME — Do Not Be “Always On”
PLACE — Live in Person
CHOICE — You May Always Choose “None of the Above”
COMPLEXITY — You Are Never Completely Right
SCALE — One Size Does Not Fit All
IDENTITY — Be Yourself
SOCIAL — Do Not Sell Your Friends
FACT — Tell the Truth
OPENNESS — Share, Don’t St
Tamas Kalman
Dec 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
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, unprofita
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such important ideas and insights in this little book. (Also many typos.) (Also the newer cover is much less hideous.)
Jen Jen
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some really excellent considerations here, as we continue to move into the digital age.
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 s
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it

Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age written by Douglas Rushkoff is a book that discusses whether the internet is good or bad. This book compares the difference between understanding or knowing how to create software and becoming software. Rushkoff says “ It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose the former, and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make” (Ru
Eric Phetteplace
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lis-web
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
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Yitzchok Lowy
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.

Gregory Kaplan
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 17, 2010 is currently reading it
I've been feeling this meme coming for a while. leave it to Rushkoff to jump on it first.
Feb 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Practical, radical, insightful. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" for the Internet. Read this book!
Nelson Ramos
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Program or Be Programmed (2010) é um livro escrito por Douglas Rushkoff e é um livro que analisa e aponta mandamentos, mais concretamente dez, sobre o que significa viver num mundo digital como aquele que temos atualmente. E consequentemente, tenta chamar à nossa consciência conselhos de como podemos nos ajustar melhor a ele.

O autor é escritor, professor e documentalista que foca as maneiras como as pessoas, culturas e instituições criam, partilham e influenciam todos os seus v
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Program or be Programmed", despite its title, is not a technical book. The programming is not really (or not wholly) referring to actual programming languages, it's not a programming manual. It's a brief practical handbook which purpose is to make one realize that digital technologies have certain biases, and when used in accordance to their biases these techs improve our quality of life; when used against these inherent biases they are much less effective, even harmful.

The book presents 10 such bias
Mark Steed
Program or be programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age - Book Review

Over the past twenty years most of us have spent a significant part of our working and leisure hours struggling with varying degrees of success to keep up with the pace of technological change. We have had little time to step back to reflect on the impact that it is all having on our lives. In Program or be programmed Douglas Rushkoff presses the pause button to outline Ten Commands for a Digital Age - suggestions
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally thought this book was more about software programming itself, some sort of guidelines, a la "The Pragmatic Programmer". However, it turned out to be something else, more about the different technological biases that affect our modern lives. How modern technologies end up controlling our lives, when it should be the other way around: we should be the ones in control, programming our tech to enhance our lives.

Of course, it also deals with software programming, but it tells y
Ben Lind
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I did not learn anything from this book. However, it would be informative for people who are unaware of the impact that things like constant internet connection and invasive user tracking have on their lives. But I am already keenly aware of those things. Probably in part because I am a programmer.

I do not think you have to be a programmer to understand or shape our cultural paradigm. Ironically, that is why I agree with one of the last paragraphs in the book: "Even if we don't all g
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
I had to read this book for my introduction to IT class. I thought that it would be a nice change of pace from strict textbooks. I enjoyed the Preface and Introduction, but after that I felt like nothing was new material and that I had practically read it before. I still think it was done well and it would benefit those who want to discuss different aspects of life in a digital society, but for someone who has a lot of experience studying this topic, it was more a refresher of what I already kne ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Correction 3 16 Apr 27, 2019 11:21AM  

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Douglas Rushkoff is a New York-based writer, columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture.
“We are looking at a society increasingly dependent on machines, yet decreasingly capable of making or even using them effectively.” 27 likes
“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” 11 likes
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