Richard Metzger's Dangerous Minds

Douglas Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed from DANGEROUS MINDS on Vimeo.

Richard Metzger has always been my favorite net television maker. From his show Infinity Factory on Pseudo Networks to Disinformation on the web, Channel Four, and in real life, Metzger has penetrated the weird, bringing coherence to the esoteric. He is the thinking man's Art Bell, or the sane world's Aleister Crowley. His new web television project, Dangerous Minds, has already featured William Gibson, Mark Frauenfelder, Kim Fowley, and now - Douglas Rushkoff, via skype, trying to talk about my book from my basement office while trying to listen in case my daughter calls me from upstairs. So please don't judge this show by my own appearance.


  1. Comparing the importance of knowing how to both read AND write, to use a computer and the programing for same if false.

    Your argument seems more akin to someone worrying that people only know to read and write, but they have no idea how to make papyrus or get ink from a squid.

    You could just as easily reverse the argument. For example, by choosing Facebook over MySpace, is the people programing the software engineers. If they are being programed, why couldn’t AOL or Yahoo! keep “the programed” under their thumb?

  2. I’ve yet to read this book, but I’ve enjoyed every online lecture/interview I’ve seen by Douglas.

    I’m most curious if Douglas has read over Heidegarrian phenomenology, explicitly and obviously his essay concerning technology.

  3. Hey, Mr. Rushkoff –

    Nice Dream Machine! May I ask, did you purchase it…or build it yourself? If purchased, where did you purchase it from?

  4. ha and ha!

    Yes, the dream machine. Some students of mine made it for me a few years ago. I had suggested the laser cutter at ITP would be great for making one. But then they went ahead and used an exacto to cut it out manually. One of my prize possessions. I put it in the frame just to see if anyone would notice it.

    I don’t think programming is at the level of papyrus. That’s the machine code – the assembly. I’m talking about knowing the programs or even just the interfaces, and being able to see which choices are arbitrary.

    Yeah, I did read Heidegger – forced by a friend, Richard Barbrook, who also made me read Hegel and Kant as a lead-in. And it changed everything. I don’t know if human beings have an essence that computers or networks can’t achieve. This thing we think of as essence could be an emergent phenomenon rather than some intrinsic quality. But his argument does figure into my new book, as do Baudrillard and Barthes and Benjamin. But I tried to embed their thinking in a way that winks to the people who know what I’m referring to without alienating people who don’t feel like seeing all these references. So I’ll talk about one thing being “signified” by another, assuming that people who know what signifiers are will understand where I’m coming from, but people who don’t will still get what I’m trying to say.

  5. Thanks for the reply! I’m definitely looking forward to the read. Baudrillard is fun stuff too ;)

    “human essence” is definitely a loaded concept… sometimes I prefer instead to consider the totality of embodied perception — a focus of hussurl, heidegger and merleau ponty.

    in ‘essay concerning technology’ heidegger writes specifically regarding the advent of “thinking technologically” — an orientation to the world in which resources are valued as transformable — a way to exercise control over ‘what there is’ through technological manipulation.

    those who do not think technologically are not aware of the manipulation; progress appears as natural.

    Stoked on the next two weeks of boingboing!

  6. This is junk. The issues mentioned have existed before the computer or the internet ever existed. Consider old maps, “here be dragons”. Consider the priest reciting latin to a illiterate congregation.

    Hell, children have been touching tv screens since they first existed. Its how they operate, they see something move and they reach for it. It got zero to do with iphones or touch interfaces in general.

    Or kids being gullible? No shit sherlock. The only diff between the net and the schoolyard is the extra zeros added behind the number of kids that can be reached.

    So introduce computers and suddenly all old problems become new again? Meh, waste of 25 mins.

  7. Kudos Mr. Rushkoff !

    “Program or else be used”. What a wonderful tough ! I can’t agree more with you.

    But don’t you see a big chasm ready to appear between shallow multimedia uses (touchscreens etc) and the text based roots of computing (shells, scripting, programming, etc) ?

    By the way, is what i see behind you really a dial wheel phone ???

    Thank-you for sharing you very acute toughs,

  8. Programming is not the same thing as critical thinking. Critical thinking is a more valuable skill, although it is certainly more difficult to teach.
    The net is an emergent phenomenon, and a wholly human artifact. As such we don’t know what it will be.
    As far as the connectedness of media saturated humans, I remember thinking the same thing about the Walkman, or watching people read newspapers on a train.
    For some people, the ubiquity of information will be an advantage, for others, it will be a handicap.

  9. There’s an awful lot of information in that video, so it’s difficult to have an overall reaction. I’ll use your closing comments about the indy book publishing world, and the comment “I don’t want to wait 18 months for my book to come out, for no reason.” There are reasons why the traditional book publishing industry takes so very, very long to get from commissioning editor through Contracts then MS submission through editing, clearances, design, marketing, typesetting, print scheduling, catalogs, etc. It almost all based on the concept that only a few people know how to do any of these steps. When an author is a good conceptualizer, visual artist, business person, process manager, and promoter, then the books can come out fast. However, the greatest maxim of any creative industry, whether graphic art, writing, cinematography, music, whatever, is “There is fast, cheap and good. Pick any two.” Only savants who have a whole-process understanding will be able to get something of high quality quickly without huge expense. Of course, it’s all relative.

    You people have all read more philosophy than I. Must correct that some time, although I expect I’ll end up settling for the Cole’s Notes…

  10. This is so obvious I almost hesitate to say it, but surely you realize that when you’re talking about people walking up to the fact that the environment they’re immersed in is not aprioristic, but was designed that way by someone else to a certain end, you’re talking about The Matrix…

  11. Not that I think we really need more ways to pigeonhole people but perhaps labeling some behaviors can be useful at this point.

    Doers, Thinkers and Watchers: There are the people who organize and throw the party, some attend and imagine how to throw their own even better party and there are those who really only care if it is lame or not.

    The doers of this world understand that we ALL create the world in which we live, whether we are actually conscious of our world creating actions or not. The watcher understands that we live according to rules of a world with natural and self imposing truths. Watchers may also be very productive but usually only through some kind of replication. Others may have visions of alternate realities or can conceive of better ways of living and they are thinkers at least until they do something to make their visions real.

    Watchers can sometimes and even suddenly become thinkers and thinkers can, through hard work and discipline, eventually become doers.

    The more doers there are the better place the world becomes for everyone. I think Douglas’ point here with Program or Be Programed is important because it can move people towards becoming doers.

  12. The number of programming jobs that have already been offshored is certainly a major de-motivator. Big programming houses now contract to India or China for almost all of their lower level work. Fewer entry level positions here in the US are available, and that translates directly into lower interest on the part of students planning careers.

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