"NET EFFECT: It's not too late for humanity to survive the digital" by Douglas Rushkoff

NET EFFECT: It’s not too late for humanity to survive the digital
by Douglas Rushkoff

October 12, 2009

The first time I worked with a computer, way back in high school in the late ’70s, there was no such thing as software. To use the terminal, I had to write my own code and then input it into the computer. Only then would the computer be a typewriter, a calculator, a psychiatrist, or an elevator controller. A computer was an “anything” machine. Moreover, everything I wrote and saved—my “content”—was accessible and changeable by anyone else on the system—unless I specifically ordered otherwise. Media was no longer fixed, it was changeable. Not only ownership, but also the notion of finality itself had become arbitrary—even artificial.

Today, most of us think of computers—and all of our digital devices—in terms of the applications they offer: “What does it already do” instead of “what can I make it do?” Likewise, instead of teaching computer programming in school, we teach kids how to use Microsoft Windows. This difference is profound. It exemplifies the core difference between a society capable of thinking its way beyond its current limitations, and one destined to repeat the same mistakes until it drives itself to extinction.

Computers and networking technology present humanity with the greatest opportunity for renaissance since the invention of the 22-letter alphabet in about the second millennium BCE. But, just like then, we are squandering the opportunity. Continue reading

May 15: Complementary Currency Panel Discussion with Douglas Rushkoff, Alex Gordon-Brander, and Charles Eisenstein at the I.D. Project in New York

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For those of you who have yet to make it down there, Friday, May 15th is a wonderful occasion to check out the Interdependence Project (or I.D. Project) in the East Village, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to channeling meditation and mindfulness practice into their real-life applications in the arts, ecology, activism, and community service. From 8 to 10pm, longtime Arthur contributor Douglas Rushkoff will join writers Alex Gordon-Brander and Charles Eisenstein in a panel discussion entitled “Beyond the Benjamins: Complementary Currency Systems and Social Interdependence”, followed by a question and answer session. Should be a lively and informative evening for people looking to find out what complementary currency is and how they can get jump-start an alternative exchange movement from the ground up.

A description of the event from the I.D. Project Website:

Alternative currency systems naturally encourage cooperation, reciprocation, self-reliance, and mutual aid. These four elements are the foundation of social interdependence and socio-economic solidarity. Come learn about starting a complementary currency and how new forms of exchange build value in your community.

Join us for a panel discussion featuring Alex Gordon-Brander, Charles Eisenstein, and Douglas Rushkoff. Q&A to follow introductions and explanations.

Friday May 15, 2009, 8pm-10pm
Lila Center, Interdependence Project
302 Bowery @ Houston St., 3rd fl.
F/V, D, 6, R/W trains all nearby
$10 or $5 (students/unemployed/monthly IDP donors)

Money should not keep you away!
Let us know if you can’t afford the cost and would like to attend.

Contact info@theidproject.com

The I.D. Project also has a group in Portland, Oregon!

Rushkoff defends the Dark Ages tonight on WFMU, 7pm EDT

Provocative thinker/Arthur columnist Douglas Rushkoff will be doing his weekly radio show, “The Media Squat” live tonight at 7pm EDT on WFMU. Streams at wfmu.org.

Doug tweets:

StreetsBlog Aaron Naparstek joins me on MediaSquat: WFMU.org, 7pm, and itunes WFMU. I plan to defend the so-called Dark Ages.

Should be interesting listening, especially for folks who were intrigued by Doug’s recent essays on the economy (“Let It Die,” “Hack Money, Hack Banking”) when he touched on current scholarship regarding life and commerce in the late Middle Ages.

R.I.P. SHAWN MORTENSEN, 1966-2009

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Above: A Zapatista, photographed in Chiapas by Shawn Mortensen. Courtesy Peter Relic.

Shawn Mortensen was a passionate photographer, activist, storyteller and human being, who expected the best out of everybody. He gave much, much more than this world gave him.

Shawn was a friend, a fellow traveler, a comrade.

It is fair to say that his personal and professional support helped bring Arthur Magazine into being, and without him there would be no Arthur. He helped me see that I could edit and publish a culture magazine—not just that I could, but that I had to—and he rallied support from others, and provided countless instances of support, much of it in private. I still have an email he sent to me and our friend Peter Relic on July 28, 2000 at 1:30am, entitled ‘MORTY”S MANIFESTD,’ [sic] which was a typically typo’d, irreverent, stream-of-Mortensen call to (publishing) arms, written from the green zone (the real one, not the one that they’d build in Baghdad three years later) where we had spent so much time together, turning each other on to stuff, generating ideas and figuring out how to get The Work done.

Shawn realized how it (culture, politics, love) all fit together; his success was in embodying it, to the degree that he could; his frustration was that others couldn’t (yet) see what he did. But of course, who could, really? Who else among us had seen as much as Shawn had—the good, the great, the bad, and the really bad? Shawn was almost over-aware.

Shawn’s photograph of Beck performing at Aron’s Records was used in Arthur’s pre-launch promotional materials. His photograph of Peaches ran in Arthur No. 1. For our ‘real’ first issue, Arthur No. 2, he photographed Devendra Banhart (possibly Devendra’s first-ever “photo shoot”?) and Genesis P-Orridge & Douglas Rushkoff. As the magazine matured, Shawn always offered his services, free of charge, in addition to his contacts, his wealth of knowledge, his archives and his moral support. That we did not collaborate further was (mostly) a matter of bad timing. I profoundly regret that we did not achieve together what we had set out to do, on the scale we had hoped for.

That said: Without Shawn, my life would be significantly different, and not nearly as good.

I am in shock that he is gone at this moment, forever.

For those who never met him, or who want to see (and hear) him today, this video shows a lot of what he was about.

Journalist Drew Tewksbury has posted a long piece from Shawn about the early to mid ’90s, composed in 2007 for Flaunt Magazine, on his website. Shawn’s writing voice was always enthusiastic, manic, exciting to read. This is no different, and I am happy that it’s been shared with us all.

Go here:
http://drewtewksbury.com/2009/04/17/the-final-draft-of-shawn-mortensen/