Book Review: Program or Be Programmed – Ten Commandments of the Digital Age

December 30, 2010

This quick read by Douglas Rushkoff is less ominous than the title sounds but still thought provoking.  The author does not advocate becoming a programmer per se but understanding the greater control and influence over our decisions that apps have on our everyday lives. Particularly the chapter on Choice: You May Always Choose None of the Above; here he emphasizes the need to be aware of and not locked into choices made for us.  Whether it is Google search results/adwords or Amazon recommendations of what others have selected, were are ever so gently guided toward choices. It reminds me of the decades old book of Alvin Toffler, Overchoice. Even then he anticipated the problem of hundreds of choices of models and colors and didn’t anticipate the ability to search millions of products online. Maybe we need tools to help us in our choices to guide us to our preferences to reduce the number of choices. But understanding enough about how this tools are programmed frees us from a type of slavery to them.

In addition, there are chapters about online identity: Do Not Be Always On, Live in Person, Be Yourself, Do Not Sell Your Friends. Increasingly, the lines between our online and offline identities are becoming blurred. Some handle this better than others, but identity confusion occurs with the most distasteful evidence in cyber-bulling and  getting lost in game worlds. The advice to retain our humanity is well founded.

While the book does not address health issues on the internet and social media in depth, there are some implications for ePatients and patient-physician relationships. These need to be based in reality, not the virtual world. These identities and relationships can be extended by apps and tools but not to the exclusion of real life.

Share this:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon
  • Pinterest
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Leave a Reply