Rushkoff talks about how his daughter has swiped a screen (computer, Television) with her hand and how she automatically expects something to move or to happen; of which is actually a really great example of how humans (especially of the ones growing up nowadays contrary to the “immigrants to the digital era” or those exposed to a pre-new media universe”) are being programmed by technology.

How Rushkoff explains his meaning behind his title of his book is that “if you don’t know how to program in a digital age, then you will be programmed. In other words, we have a choice either to make the software or to be the software. We’re moving into a world where most everything we touch and do is going to be the result of some programming in one way or another.” It’s interesting to think about how many programs we use everyday, of which have been made by programmers (who know how the program is set up and not just how to use it like every day people), in order to make our lives easier. However what he is saying is that to ‘be programmed’ or to ‘be the software’ means that humans are beginning to grow accustomed to ‘the new way’ of how things work (example being his kid swiping screens that aren’t programmed to).

Rushkoff states that the line between understanding reality and programming isn’t that far off, and at first I didn’t agree with him since I believe one is physical and the other is through technology. Then he explains how social constructions are programs, in the way that it is basically understood as a series of choices given to everyone by the way society sets it up to be; he worries that “if we move into an increasingly programmed reality without understanding that its been programmed, we’re going to be really incapable of distinguishing between the map and the territory.” Is he saying that the future of social constructions going to become as dependent on software as we are (i.e. social interactions)?

Douglas Rushkoff, “Program or Be Programmed”




  1. bboessen · November 7, 2016

    Interesting question. Count it. He’s arguing not that culture will become more software-like, but that software is already so like our day-to-day interactions that we are in danger of thinking that it “just is” that way, or worse, that it *has* to be that way. Instead, he wants to help us understand that software is the way it is because people made lots of choices along the way, but it didn’t have to be. (In that way, his book would be a lot like this course.)


  2. ashleevillasenor · November 8, 2016

    In response to your question I think Rushkoff is warning us, while at the same time expecting that our lives have already been infiltrated by software. So I don’t think he’s stating that our social interactions, for example, while be overrun by software, but that it has already happened. Therefore, we don’t necessarily need to reverse it, but not see it as a norm.


    • bboessen · November 24, 2016

      Interesting point. So is it enough to simply do this (i.e., recognize the problem): will that be a corrective on its own over time, or do we need to do specific things *once* we make that realization?


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