The debate over whether the Net is good or bad for us fills the airwaves and the blogosphere. But for all the heat of claim and counter-claim, the argument is essentially beside the point: it’s here; it’s everywhere. The real question is, do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it? “Choose the former,” writes Rushkoff, “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.” In ten chapters, composed of ten “commands” accompanied by original illustrations from comic artist Leland Purvis, Rushkoff provides cyberenthusiasts and technophobes alike with the guidelines to navigate this new universe.

In this spirited, accessible poetics of new media, Rushkoff picks up where Marshall McLuhan left off, helping readers come to recognize programming as the new literacy of the digital age––and as a template through which to see beyond social conventions and power structures that have vexed us for centuries. This is a friendly little book with a big and actionable message.

World-renowned media theorist and counterculture figure Douglas Rushkoff is the originator of ideas such as “viral media,” “social currency” and “screenagers.” He has been at the forefront of digital society from its beginning, correctly predicting the rise of the net, the dotcom boom and bust, as well as the current financial crisis. He is a familiar voice on NPR, face on PBS, and writer in publications from Discover Magazine to the New York Times.

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A great online place to buy this book would be O/R Books


Study guide for Program or Be Programmed


“Rushkoff’s book provides a valuable discussion of what media literacy ought to be like in the age of digital media, and the book does so through an ample elaboration of relevant and significant points.”
–Soo-Kwang Oh, The Journal of Media Literacy Communication

“We like to think that we’re old hands at the information age, but what Douglas Rushkoff shows is that those who march into the web thinking that knowledge of the “outside world” will be enough to use this new conduit, have been sadly mistaken over and over.”
– Mark Sumner, Daily Kos