Rushkoff’s appeal for a wider understanding of our rapidly changing technological environment seems like it might be the typical anachronistic song for simpler times, heard throughout humankind’s history of technology. It is more subtle than that. Rushkoff broaches a commonly heard criticism in his final chapter when he asks, “We all know how to drive our cars, yet few of us know how our automobiles actually work, right?”
Throughout the twentieth century, we remained blissfully ignorant of the real biases of automotive transportation. We approached our cars as consumers, through ads, rather than as engineers or, better, civic planners. We gladly surrendered our public streetcars to private automobiles, unaware of the real expenses involved.
Digital technology is different because:
Our screens are the windows through which we are experiencing, organizing, and interpreting the world in which we live. … They are fast becoming the boundaries of our perceptual and conceptual apparatus; the edge between our nervous systems and everyone else’s, our understanding of the world and the world itself. If we don’t know how they work, we have no way of knowing what is really out there. … Our senses and our thoughts are already clouded by our own misperceptions, prejudices, and confusion. Our digital tools add yet another layer of bias on top of that.
A short tract, but a worthy read nonetheless. Filled with great quotes.