Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age | Interactive 2010 | SXSW

Source: Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age | Interactive 2010 | SXSW

by David Rushkoff, author of Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age


Excepting an apocalypse, computers and digital devices are here for the rest of your life. Consider this carefully because that could be a very long time. From now on, your knowledge and understanding of computing and technology will likely factor in to everything from how frustrating your day-to-day life is, to how successful your career is. I would extend this to include the concept that the political issues (e.g. net neutrality; open-source versus closed source; the depth, breadth, and length of patents; digital rights management; privacy versus data mining) that only bother techno-geeks today will rule your life tomorrow.

“When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.

In the emerging, highly programmed landscape ahead, you will either create the software or you will be the software. It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose the former, 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.”
— Douglas Rushkoff


Excerpt from the book:
“Program or be Programmed: Ten Commands for the Digital Age” by Douglas Rushkoff, 2009/06/01

What if grocery receipts included calorie counts?

My most recent grocery bill was $195, but how many calories did I bring home? If exactly everything was consumed by 4 people in equal portions over the next week (7 days), then how many calories will I have consumed? Websites with nutrition information are legion on the internet (with 88 million results for “nutrition” on Google, 2010-10-20), but finding the time to apply it all is difficult [even under the amazingly optimistic assumption that you can sort out what is correct and what is not]. It may be a heuristic, but you more or less eat all the calories that you purchase and bring home from the grocery store (unless you are throwing out a lot of uneaten food or throwing parties where you provide food to the guests). America already has a law that mandates calorie counts for restaurants [2][3][4], barcodes already link to price data, and all the packaged food sold in the store has nutrition labels. What would the public effect be of printing a total calorie count at the end of grocery store receipts?

[1] : “SELF Nutrition Data” by © 2009 Condé Nast Digital, 2010/10/20

[2] : “Fast Food Calories News Reveals Health Care Restaurant Law” by Andy Hodges, 2010/03/25

[3] : “FDA releases guidance on federal menu labeling requirements” by U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2010/08/24

[4] : “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” see section “4205” by One Hundred Eleventh Congress of the United States of America, 2010/01/05

Where is my car’s ringtone?

People like personalizing their possessions and the more expensive something is the more personalized the owner would probably prefer it to be. A car is likely the second most expensive thing someone owns, after their house. Most modern cars beep an acknowledgement when the associated keychain radio transmitter is clicked. It just beeps? Didn’t cell phones stop “just beeping” like 5 years ago, while nice phones had basic ringtones at least 10 years ago?

So, here is the idea. What if you could use a USB connection in your dashboard to load a 1-5 second audio clip that plays (midi-fied?) instead of beeping when the radio transmitter is used? You could even permit a set of them to be loaded, so that “lock”, “unlock”, and “find me” can have different audio settings.