Eric Phetteplace's Reviews > Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age

Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff
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's review
May 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: lis-web
Read in November, 2012

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 binary data can be represented as series of 1s & 0s doesn't mean that computers, as opposed to the analog world, are somehow innately inclined to making choices). The first citations appear about halfway through the book, long after some of the most questionable statements. I'd be OK with just no citations–the book isn't academic & wouldn't be as effective if it was–but don't go halfway & cite some things while leaving so much unsupported. I also wished the last section, on actually learning programming, was better emphasized. The book is more oriented towards software use than software design; at least presenting a few fundamental concepts, like variables or control flow, might have helped explain the power & appeal of programming to the uninitiated, who are left only with vague adumbrations of what it means to code at the end of the book.
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