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New Media, Communication, and Society

A Fast, Straightforward Examination of Key Topics

Mary Ann Allison and Cheryl A. Casey

New Media, Communication, and Society is a fast, straightforward examination of key topics which will be useful and engaging for both students and professors. It connects students to wide-ranging resources and challenges them to develop their own opinions. Moreover, it encourages students to develop media literacy so they can speak up and  make a difference in the world. Short chapters with lots of illustrations encourage reading and provide a springboard for conversation inside and outside of the classroom. Wide-ranging topics spark interest. Chapters include suggestions for additional exploration, a media literacy exercise, and a point that is just for fun. Every chapter includes thought leaders, ranging from leading researchers to business leaders to entrepreneurs, from Socrates to Doug Rushkoff and Lance Strate to Bill Gates.

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20 Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed (Mary Ann Allison)

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CHAPTER 20

Rushkoff: Program or Be Programmed

Mary Ann Allison

Imagine society as a giant computer. It isn’t…but, as a thought experiment, imagine for a moment that you could give our society instructions or commands just as a programmer gives a computer commands.

In this thought experiment, your commands would be followed by humans over and over again. Through these repeated actions, you would have a hand in shaping society. What instructions would you give?

What other instructions or commands might already be operating? Since this book is about new media, you might ask yourself what “instructions,” or biases, have already been suggested by the digital media we use? Would you want to reinforce these biases or counter them?

In his powerful book Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, media theorist and social critic Douglas Rushkoff (2010) asks these questions and offers 10 powerful commands. In addition to reading this book, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Doug speak about new media several times.

In this topic I am able to include only a few highlights. I encourage you to buy the book and get the full benefit of Doug’s thinking in this area.

What’s a command?

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