if you don’t know how to use technology, it will use you argues Douglas Rushkoff.
Digital technology is different. Unlike previous tools - shovels or hammers say – it comes programmed, embedded with instructions. They enact the agenda of their programmer or the guy paying him. We spend more time every day in digital environments designed by people with agendas. Every screen and every button is there for a reason, and it’s usually to do with someone else’s interests.
Unfortunately, most of us accept our new technologies at face value when we don’t really know what they are actually for. Ask anyone about Facebook and they’ll tell you it’s there to help them make friends. They probably don’t know that the whole site, every choice, its entire functionality, is aimed at turning friendships into social marketing opportunities for advertisers to bombard you with.
It’s a world intentionally reduced to ‘likes,’ where connections are to be defined by product loyalties. That’s the program. But if we can’t even tell what the software we use was created to do, we don’t stand a chance of using it effectively. We’re less likely to be the program’s users than the used.
Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age is available through www.orbooks.com