In the book, Rushkoff makes an argument that in the digital era, there are two modes of being — to program or to be programmed. He then takes the premise as a basic analytical framework to analyze how digital technology affects our basic experiences in time, space, choice, identity, social, etc. in 10 chapters. I have finished only the first chapter which is about our temporal experience. While I like his approach to the subject much more than I did with the writing of Nicholas Carr who wrote “Shallow”, I flet that Rushkoff fell into a similar trap of romanticizing the past unwarrantedly. If Carr romanticized the traditional society where we were still reading books and newspapers printed on paper, Rushkoff did the same with the early era of the Internet before we were connected to “always on” machines that vibrates each time someone sends us an email or post a message on our Facebook wall. He describes that the communication back then was much more reflective and thoughtful. He argues that because back then, we could “pause” and think more before we replied through asynchronous media such as bulletin board, our messages were more meaningful. Yet, it was precisely then when the idea of “flaming” was introduced by early scholars like Sarah Kiesler and Lee Sproull who studied the same asynchronous media that Rushkoff mentions. Of course, there are more thoughtless messages being sent around as people around the globe are constantly updating their status in 140 words. But at the same, one might find that the number of thoughtful messages and comments has increased just as well. Who knows? Of course, I send more messages with typos with the help of my IPhone. But I am not sure if I became more thoughtless in general. Perhaps. My wife can tell me that. But then, she always finds many of my actions thoughtless anyway. So, it is hard for me to believe that iPhone or Blackberry (which I had before I got an iPhone) is at fault here.
Well, I only read one chapter and the book is interesting. I am sure I will find more to agree with him as I go along. I just wanted to share my thoughts as quickly as possible. Oops. Rushkoff was right. I should have paused before I post this.