Author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Present Shock and Program or Be Programmed
“Every great advance begins when someone sees that what everyone else takes for granted may not actually be true. Douglas Rushkoff questions the deepest assumptions of the modern economy, and blazes a path towards a more human centered world.”—Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media
Media theorist, author, documentarian, and world-renowned public intellectual, Douglas Rushkoff has spent his prolific career thinking about how new media and technology are impacting culture, business, and the economy. Named one of the world’s 10 most influential thinkers by MIT, Rushkoff has written 15 bestselling books and coined such concepts as “viral media,” “social currency,” and “digital natives.” His talks are a culmination of his pioneering work, and an infallible source of what’s to come.
Among his bestselling books, translated to over 30 languages, are Present Shock, an exploration of our instantaneous, always-on culture, Program or Be Programmed, a clarion call for digital literacy, and his newest, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, a critique of the digital economy and a set of actionable principles for thriving within it. He has written hundreds of articles for publications ranging from New Scientist to The New York Times. This fall, Dark Horse comics will release his first graphic novel, Aleister & Adolf, illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming. And starting September 6, his all-new weekly podcast, Team Human, premieres across the airwaves, which Rushkoff describes as a "set of resources enabling human intervention in the economic, technological, and social programs that determine how we live, work, and interact."
Distributed: A New Operating System for Business and the Economy
In this inspiring talk, drawing from his new book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Douglas Rushkoff will offer a new program for business in the digital landscape.
Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of endless prosperity, but so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids. Social networks surrender their missions to data mining, while brokerage houses abandon investing for algorithms—tactics driven by the need to stoke growth by any means necessary. Internet startups sell for billions, but destroy more jobs than they create, extract more cash from circulation than they put in, and disrupt entire marketplaces and neighborhoods in the process. We know that something’s wrong—but we’re not sure how to fix it, or even what to call it.
Media scholar and technology author Douglas Rushkoff argues for a new economic program that utilizes the unique distributive power of the internet to break free of the winner-take-all game defining business today. In this keynote, Dr. Rushkoff will offer a series of practical steps for businesses, consumers, investors, and policymakers to remake the economy from the inside out—and prosper along the way.
Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real-time, and always on. Wall Street traders no longer invest in a future; they expect profits in the ultra-fast moment. Voters want immediate results from their politicians, having lost all sense of the historic timescale on which government functions. Kids text during parties to find out if there’s something better happening in the moment, somewhere else. It's not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It's more of a diminishment of anything that isn't happening right now—and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is. If the end of the 20th century could be characterized by futurism, the 21st is about presentism. We are no longer contending with future shock. The future is now.
In this talk, Douglas Rushkoff will convey "present shock" as it manifests on myriad levels: how it changes the way we make and experience culture, run our businesses, invest our money, conduct our politics, understand science, make sense of our world, and form our beliefs, cultures and religions. He will share panic reactions to present shock (such as Narrative Collapse, Fractalnoia, Overwinding, and Apocalypto) right alongside more successful approaches to living outside what we have always thought of as time. In addition to general audiences, this talk is of particular interest to marketers and messagers attempting to communicate in a post-narrative age.
The New Digital Economy: Global Economics Crisis as Renaissance Opportunity
The dominance of centralized value creation by corporations is fast being challenged by a world of smaller, networked markets, each capable of adding and measuring value in its own way. Top-down national currencies like the dollar and Euro—as well as the banks that live off them—are quite literally breaking down under the pressure. According to Douglas Rushkoff, this is not a crisis for business or investors at all, if they simply come to understand how economics works in a digital environment.
Rushkoff chronicles the invention of central currency, revealing its embedded biases and showing how it is now failing as a medium of exchange and investment in the highly abstracted and accelerated marketplace. He contextualizes the current banking crisis as the failure of a 13th century monetary operating system to serve the needs of a 21st century digital economy. Rushkoff shares how banks, corporations, and investors alike can transcend the limits of “static” capital and competitive scarcity.
Don't Sell Your Friends: How Social Media Became Social Programming
For Millennials, the social media landscape is a game of numbers and hits, recommendations and followers, votes and views. What most young people don't realize is how these free online activities and apps come with a cost: they are delivering themselves and their data to a marketing industry that uses every click against them.
In this talk, Douglas Rushkoff—producer and host of the PBS Frontline documentary Generation Like—will evaluate whether social media is offering young people a new avenue of self-expression, or simply empowering marketers to predict and influence their behaviors. He offers a new lens on the digital world in which we live, and some practical strategies for transcending the limits of our online profiles.
Program or Be Programmed
The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for Douglas Rushkoff, 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,” says Rushkoff, “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.” In this spirited call for digital literacy, organized as ten “commands” for gaining control over technology, Rushkoff provides cyberenthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe. This talk is particularly well-suited to communities considering how digital technology can be implemented in their schools or their economic renewal strategies.
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence
We cannot begin to thank you enough for traveling all the way to Memphis to be one of our conference featured speakers. Your energy and intelligence really ignited the room and provided some very good food for thought. We sincerely appreciate your willingness to work with us to make this part of your book tour. It was a great pleasure and honor to meet you and hear your thoughts on growth and the digital economy.
Cathy Grieve Denver University
The presentation was excellent. One of the best we have had. Douglas is intelligent, engagingâ€”and visionary. The audience found him very insightful as well as entertaining. He has a casual style but it is very refreshing. And he had quite a group stay after to speak with him.
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity
The digital economy has gone wrong. Everybody knows it, but no one knows quite how to fix it, or even how to explain the problem. Workers lose to automation, investors lose to algorithms, musicians lose to power law dynamics, drivers lose to Uber, neighborhoods lose to Airbnb, and even tech developers lose their visions to the demands of the startup economy.
Douglas Rushkoff argues that it doesn’t have to be this way. This isn’t the fault of digital technology at all, but the way we are deploying it: instead of building the distributed digital economy these new networks could foster, we are doubling down on the industrial age mandate for growth above all. As Rushkoff shows, this is more the legacy of early corporatism and central currency than a feature of digital technology. In his words, “we are running a 21st century digital economy on a 13th Century printing-press era operating system.”
In Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Rushkoff shows how we went wrong, why we did it, and how we can reprogram the digital economy and our businesses from the inside out to promote sustainable prosperity for pretty much everyone. Rushkoff calls on business to:
• Accept that era of extractive growth is over. Rather, businesses must—like eBay and Kickstarter—give people the ability to exchange value and invest in one another.
• Eschew platform monopolies like Uber in favor of distributed, worker-owned co-ops, orchestrated through collective authentication systems like bitcoin and blockchains instead of top-down control.
• Resist the short-term, growth-addicted mindset of publicly traded markets, by delivering dividends instead of share price increases, or opting to stay private or buy back one’s own shares.
• Recognize contributions of land and labor as important as capital, and develop business ecosystems that work more like family companies, investing in the local economies on which they ultimately depend.
Rushkoff calls on us to reboot this obsolete economic operating system and use the unique distributive power of the internet to break free of the winner-take-all game defining business today. A fundamentally optimistic book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus culminates with a series of practical steps to remake the economic operating system from the inside out—and prosper along the way.
Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, and compile knowledge. We strove for an instantaneous network where time and space could be compressed.
Well, the future’s arrived. We live in a continuous now enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Yet this “now” is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.
Douglas Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eternal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture.
Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age
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, “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.” In ten chapters, composed of ten “commands” accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyberenthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe.
In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age––and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.
- Twitter: Speaker
- Twitter: Lavin
- Exclusives What Are You Reading?: Shetterly, Jackson, and Anand
- Politics When Donald Meets Hillary: James Fallows’ Pre-Debate Atlantic Cover Story
- Innovation Watch: Tech’s Top Innovators Shine on Amber MacArthur’s Bloomberg North
- Authors Margaret Atwood’s Latest? The Stunning Graphic Novel Angel Catbird