May 04, 2011
Do you want to kill Osama? Yes/No

So, I was a little underwhelmed, initially, by Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff, and I still think the book is too alarmist for its own good. There are however a number of great observations of bad patterns in the digital experience, and I have a clear feeling that I'll be taking them with me when evaluating digital stuff in the future.
The first great use of the book since reading came on the news of Osama Bin Laden's death in an American attack. All of a sudden practically all digital media were afloat in a right or wrong-debate over the killing and the reactions to it. And this is where the following Rushkoff quote comes to mind

The digital realm is biased toward choice, because everything must be expressed in the terms of a discrete, yes-or-no, symbolic language. This, in turn, often forces choices on humans operating within the digital sphere. We must come to recognize the increased number of choices in our lives as largely a side effect of the digital; we always have the choice of making no choice at all.

That really hit home for me with the Osama story. I find myself completely unable to come up with a yes/no vote related to his death or the reaction to it. The courts should be our venue for justice. It's not likely the Americans could have succesfully driven up to the house and arrested Osama. I'm pretty sure the man himself would have preferred the ending he got to being paraded around as an American prize in the war on terror. There's maybe hundreds of other thoughts available in my head on hearing about the attack on Osama. I'd rather sit a while with those thoughts than join the chorus and "move past this" by passing judgment on 1) Osama, 2) the attack, 3) his death, 4) US-Pakistani politics, 5) jubilation in response to his death 6) the knee-jerk fear- and conspiracy theories already afloat 7) islam 8) USA - pick any number.

Posted by Claus at May 04, 2011 10:59 AM | TrackBack (0)
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