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This nOde last updated November 27th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
(9 Ix (Jaguar) / 17 Keh (Red) - 74/260 - 220.127.116.11.14)
Douglas Rushkoff is professor of media culture at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Rushkoff has written some of the most influential books on cyberculture, new media, raves, and culture jamming, including _Coercion_, _Media Virus_ and _Cyberia_, which established him as one of America's highest profile analysts. Miramax/Dimension Studios recently optioned his first novel _The Ecstasy Club_. He writes a monthly columnist for The New York Times Syndicate, radio commentaries for NPR's All Things Considered, and has been published in _Time_, _The Guardian_, _Paper_, _GQ_, _The Silicon Alley Reporter_ and _Esquire_. Rushkoff has served as an Adviser to the United Nations Commission on World Culture, is on the Board of Directors of the Media Ecology Association, and is a founding member of Technorealism. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, and received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and a post-graduate fellowship from The American Film Institute. He has consulted with Sony, Interval Research, Turner Broadcasting, Discovery Communications and TCI.
Douglas Rushkoff is a candidate for the most high-profile (and widely read) cyberculture analyst to emerge from the U.S. in the early 1990s. Rushkoff's views on the Internet, popular culture and mutant media have influenced and impacted upon government and business policies. Controversy and debate surround most of his seven books, invigorating and defining the limits of cyberculture discourse.
Rushkoff's second book, _Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace_ (1994) was amongst the first books to capture the new subcultures that arose from the collision of psychedelics, raves, industrial music, hacking, chaos theory, and early computer networks. Through direct experience and seminal case-studies, Rushkoff conveyed the 'memetic drift' of 1960s hippie rebellion mutating into new forms. From Cyberdelia to emerging Tribalism, 'Cyberia' offered readers an insider's view into hedonistic explorations of human consciousness. Despite its now obvious flaws, it is best read as a snapshot of cyberculture's early years.
_Media Virus: Hidden Agendas In Popular Culture_ (1994) was the book that established Rushkoff's international status as virtuoso media analyst and cyberculture icon. Becoming the virtual textbook on 'mutant media' for advertising agencies, 'Media Virus' featured many now-standard case-studies of culture-jamming, hacking, memetic engineering, and media manipulation: the O.J. Simpson trial; the Rodney King video-tape; 'The Simpsons' and 'Beavis & Butthead' television shows; rave music; Court TV and COPS; DMT and Ecstasy mindscapes. He was hailed by 'New Perspectives Quarterly' as "the brilliant heir to Marshall McLuhan." Rushkoff also uncovered close links between _Wired_ magazine and the 'Global Business Network' think-tank, hinting at questionable business practices and conflicts of interest.
The predictable backlash from other cyber-critics became evident when the 'New York Times' newspaper (November 25th 1996) printed claims that Rushkoff was being paid $7500/hr consultancy fees by multi-national corporations to sell generational secrets. Savaged by 'Wired', Rushkoff's next book _Playing The Future: What We Can Learn From Digital Kids_ (1996; published in the U.K. as 'Children of Chaos') upped the ante, challenging prevailing ideologies regarding Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the effects of television violence on children. Hostile critics marred the book's public reception, but Rushkoff had already turned his attention to other avenues. His first novel _Ecstasy Club_ (1997) convincingly captures the group dynamics and fractured youth culture dreams of _Mondo 2000_ era ravers and hackers. Considered to be his best book to date, it was optioned by Miramax/Dimension film studios.
Rushkoff has faced vocal critics, notably Mark Dery and Richard Barbrook, who have attacked the breathless optimism and perceived ideological contradictions of his writings, and his multi-national corporations consultancy. In reply, Rushkoff has attacked the New Left's hatred of material success, countered he isn't a mindless 'techno-utopian' as often depicted, and reminded critics he files experiential frontline reports, not over-wordy name-dropping academic treatises ('Cyberia', 'Media Virus' and 'Playing The Future' were all written prior to August 1995, before the Internet began to 'cross-the-chasm' into popular consciousness).
His high-profile columns for the New York Times Syndicate and NPR 'All Things Considered' radio commentaries, as well as media studies programs for New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program indicate that Rushkoff's views populate the global data-sphere.
Rushkoff's new book "'Coercion: Why We Listen To What 'They' Say"(1999) is his uncompromising critical reply: a timely de-construction of media wars and manipulative tactics used by postmodern marketeers and e-commerce merchants.
Research by Alex Burns for Disinformation
The internet is for amateurs. No - that's not an insult, but high praise. 'Amateurs,' by definition, do what they do for the love of it. Because it's fun, social, enriching, transformational, evolutionary, or even just beautiful. Now that the investment community sees the net as more of a lame duck than a cash cow, the only ones left out here (or the only ones that should be) are usamateurs.
- Douglas Rushkoff
"An open-source future is one in which we realize that reality itself is open source. That the world is conforming to our expectations of it, and that we are all participating and all contributing to its unfolding. The reason that people have gods and all this other stuff is because they can't cope with that yet. That's a scary thought -- that we're in charge. We've got the whole world in our hands (Rushkoff)."
". . . And all you had to do to "get it" was show up, maybe pop an E, and dance with the beautiful boys and girls. That's right - dance with everyone, not a partner. It wasn't about scoring, it was about group organism. Like a slam-dance or mosh pit, but without the slamming. Just the groove. And the smiles. If everything went right - and usually everything went right - there'd be a moment, or maybe even a whole hour - when it just clicked into place. All the individual dancers would experience themselves as this single, coordinated being. A creature with a thousand arms and eyes, making love with itself and reaching back as far as creation and forward to the very end of time. They became a living fractal, feeding back on itself - sometimes quite literally with video cameras, projectors, and screens - right through to infinity. And, as Peter Pan, the first fairy tale raver told us, "beyond."
"Evolution was no longer competition, it was a team sport. Fueled by music, chemicals, motion, and, most of all, empathy. We were navigating a course through hyperspace to the attractor at the end of history."
from intro to new book on rave & religion
MEDIA JAM INTERVIEW WITH DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF (6/29/03)
My passion for the Internet stems from its ability to allow people to interact with one another, instead of with packaged content. The businesspeople you refer to who successfully, if only temporarily, derailed the interactive age did so by pushing their agenda that "content is king." They did this because they weren't making any real money of people sharing themselves with one another on BBS's and in chat rooms. Big business doesn't want people blogging - it wants people buying stuff.
The first stage towards getting people to buy stuff is to convince them that their own thoughts, words, and creations mean less than those created by professionals of one kind or another. Home-made cupcakes are to be experienced as less tasty (or as a less special gift) than store-bought, or at least Betty Crocker.
Content was not really king on the internet; contact was. It was the interpersonal aspects of the internet that were so truly threatening to the media empires. We were beginning to enjoy one another more than packaged media.
Like everyone else, I got a perverse delight out of getting music for free - particularly because I remember how music got cheaper to make but more expensive to buy once they switched to the CD format. We all know how the record industry screws over artists and consumers, alike. Radio even more so. Sharing these tracks felt like a little consumer revolution. But that's all it was - a revolution for us in our roles as consumers, not as human beings. If as much effort were spent, say, on social justice as we've spent on fighting for our rights to music, we might live in a more peaceful world.
Along with a renaissance comes the newfound ability to redesign things. Our world becomes 'open source,' and we become aware of the fact that things aren't just pre-existing realities - they are arbitrarily decided. Everything from Microsoft Office to the street plan of your city was designed by someone, with certain agendas. So much of what we think of as fixed 'hardware' is actually software, capable of being recoded.
So the relationship between access to a designer reality, and the belief in a fixed reality, has always been central to my inquiry. The notion of content vs. contact I spoke of before is really just another way of understanding the same interplay. Content that becomes truly fixed and permanent is what we call a 'sacred truth.' It is not up for discussion.
I think we're already taking the internet back. Mainly, by building interactive interfaces over the intentionally non-interactive World Wide Web. I'm quite excited by Blogger (web logs) as well as the proliferation of web sites with active bulletin boards.
Broadband has brought more people online - people who didn't have the patience for a-synchronous communication - and everyone is getting to see that what's sexy about this medium is not buying stuff (we're all too poor, these days, anyway) but the other people.
No - don't be a fool. Don't surrender to the notion that you are a part of the 'counterculture.' We are not the counterculture - we are the culture. The dead corporate beasts - they are the counterculture, attempting to replace our autonomy with roboticized predictability.
Unionize humanity, instead.
Of course, because I don't talk about god they assume I'm an atheist (I'm not, though my god may not be like theirs). Because I don't talk about politics and I have some radical views, they assume I'm a Green (when I actually voted for Gore, but for more complex reasons than I can get into, here).
My political beliefs feel more like articulations - particular implementations - of my deeper priorities. I don't really like to have beliefs, as such. If I do, I try to keep them provisional. So I don't "believe" in the Democratic party. I think they're just as corrupt as anyone else.
Where both subcultures may have made a mistake is in ignoring the economic reality surrounding their decisions. The rave movement was revolutionary not because the music played at 120 beats per minute, but because it was an alternative economy. Dancing in fields meant no money for organized crime and pay-offs to the polices (who control the club world in most cities). The internet meant shareware and freeware that cut out IBM and the entire Nasdaq stock exchange.
So the Internet and electronic music scenes represented alternative economies - gift economies, in many cases - that could have had a broader impact were they not surrendered so quickly to fixed decks of corporate capitalism. That's why Burning Man grew so quickly, I think - people were looking for what they had lost.
first mention of Douglas Rushkoff on Usenet:
From: Spencer mullen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: Non-drug consciousness altering techniques...
Date: 1992-07-28 17:25:30 PST
One book that covers a hundred or so ways to get high without drugs is "Free Rides" by Douglas Rushkoff and Patrick Wells.