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Douglas Rushkoff

Instead of optimizing human beings for technology, we should be optimizing technology for humans.

Author of Team Human, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Present Shock

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Douglas Rushkoff | Author of Team Human, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Present Shock
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Instead of trying to optimize ourselves for the automated future, we should be designing technology for human beings, says Douglas Rushkoff. A world-renowned philosopher and futurist, Rushkoff’s inspiring books (like his new call-to-arms, Team Human), documentaries, and articles help communities, companies, and governments navigate the tech-augmented landscape ahead. His funny, agile talks show how we can put human creativity at the heart of businesses, even as we embrace automation and all the change it ushers in.

An author and documentarian, 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. 


“A provocative, exciting, and important rallying cry to reassert our human spirit of community and teamwork.”

— Walter Isaacson on Team Human

In expansive and exuberantly perceptive keynotes, Rushkoff touches on subjects as varied as how educators can retain the value of live presence in classrooms populated by screens, or how branding and advertising professionals can communicate with the human consumers behind the statistical profiles. We can re-humanize our technology and economy, he says; and in his book and popular podcast of the same name, Team Human, he shows how to reconnect people at work, home, school, in our faith practices, and even politics. His approach yields better, longer lasting results—for individuals, and the connected communities we form together.  “Rushkoff [has] a pretty good idea of how information technology and the culture we’ve built with it went off the rails. He even has a pretty clear idea of how to get things back on track,” says NPR.


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 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. A witty and astute media presence, Rushkoff has made many television, NPR, and PBS appearances, including his Frontline documentaries Generation Like, about teens and social media; The Persuaders, about the arms race between marketers and the public; and The Merchants of Cool, about who really drives youth culture. Rushkoff has appeared everywhere from Occupy Wall Street to The Colbert Report. He is also Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY, a correspondent on digital business and society for CNN, a consultant to the United Nations and the State Department, a graphic novelist, and the winner of the Marshall McLuhan Award for Media Writing, as well as the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity. 


“A heartfelt thanks. You were your usual articulate, scholarly and charming self. Such a performance demands either much rehearsal, spontaneous brilliance, endless reserves to call upon, or all three: the pacing, the insights—the impact of your talk left every single person in that room talking about your charisma, and more than that, your positively Grecian powers of rhetoric. Thank you from all of us.”

Princeton Progressives

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for participating yesterday. It was great to meet you and the feedback has been amazing from the audience in house and those watching the livestream (some of whom were glued to their laptops for the entire day, which is saying something!). It’s good to have a such a passionate and engaging speaker to shake things up a bit.”

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

“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.”

Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence

“The presentation was excellent. One of the best we have had. Douglas is intelligent, engaging—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.”

Denver University

Speech Topics

Civic Engagement
Team Human It’s Time to Remake Society Together as the Team We Are
To Douglas Rushkoff, Team Human is a manifesto—a fiery distillation of his most urgent thoughts on civilization and human nature. In this new talk, drawn from his book of the same name, Rushkoff argues that we are essentially social creatures, and that we achieve our greatest aspirations when we work together—not as individuals. Yet today society is threatened by a vast antihuman infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect. Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as a way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the Internet has only further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups. This talk is Rushkoff’s impassioned call to arms—to recognize that being human is a team sport. In Rushkoff’s own words: “Being social may be the whole point.” Harnessing wide-ranging research on human evolution, biology, and psychology, Rushkoff will show your audience that when we work together, we realize greater happiness, productivity, and peace. If we can understand this fundamental truth and reassert our humanity—together—we can make the world a better place to be human.
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.

Present Shock

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.