Sunday, July 08, 2012

Douglas Rushkoff, author of "Program Or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for A Digital Age"

A podcast from CBC radio's technology programme "Spark" caught my attention today. Douglas Rushkoff full radio interview on CBC "Spark" (24:27 min).

In his interview with Nora Young, Douglas Rushkoff talks about the need for awareness that we are within a constructed environment when we are occupying a space like Facebook or Google. He is concerned that people are unaware that they are not the customers -- they are the content. The "customers" are those that are paying for it, namely, the advertisers.

He also talks about the educational role that is needed from the last generation of people who have lived in a pre-digital environment. He advises that children learn to do enough programming that they understand on a gut-level that it is all about algorithims. He suggests that a good time to start would be at the grade four level, just after children have been shown long division for the first time. This is their first algorithm, where they learn that if they apply rules to a problem, they can methodically step through to an answer. He says this is a profound experience for children, when they see that they don't have to understand the whole thing in order to still work their way to answer. He says this is a teachable moment to then take another couple of weeks to show them a bit of programming, so that they understand that this grinding through steps is what a computer does too.

He also made an analogy to cars. You don't need to know how to build a car. But if you own one, you should learn how to drive it. Otherwise, you are just a passenger. You are trusting that person you are paying to drive you around is really looking after your best interests when he tells you there really are no grocery stores in this town, and that he has no other choice than to drive you twenty miles to his brother-in-law's restaurant.

It will take a bit of time investment to listen to the Spark interview, but worth it. What else have you got to do on that twenty-mile drive?

If you prefer to read rather than listen, here is the review in It described "Program Or Be Programmed" as "One of the most important and instructive books of our time."
The GeekDad Interview with Douglas Rushkoff

Interested in going straight to the source? Here is David Rushkoff's website

Photo of Rushkoff by Paul May. Licenced through Creative Commons.