The title of Douglas Rushkoff‘s recent book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, is in essence — true to all such high-concept titles — a cheat sheet for the full text. Spend more than a minute pondering the four words that precede its colon, and you pretty much know what’s coming: Today we live in a world that is increasingly mediated by digital technology; people who fail to educate themselves about how that technology is controlled risk leaving themselves open to manipulation — i.e., to being controlled. As for those “commands” to the right of the colon, they provide the book’s structure, a coy nod to the Ten Commandments. Rushkoff’s isn’t really comparing himself to Moses. He’s comparing himself to, or acting as, a Talmudic-style scholar. He’s explaining how the written word shapes, informs, and provides a means to understand human existence. In this case, the written word is the hand-typed code that is the programmed back-end of digital technology.
I wrote the piece, “10 Things Musicians Can Learn from Douglas Rushkoff’s Program or Be Programmed,” for weallmakemusic.com. It was published earlier today.