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Author: NSA snooping is example of 'present shock'

Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff says that 'present shock' is caused by the interconnectivity of social media and other technology. (Photo by New America Foundation)

There are privacy and national-security considerations in the debate over the National Security Agency's digital surveillance. But according to author and digital literacy advocate Douglas Rushkoff, the NSA flap is also case of an agency biting off more than it can chew.

Speaking June 11 at the New America Foundation, Rushkoff said, "In terms of total surveillance control and all that, it's dark. I mean, I think what happened to government now is government's in 'present shock.' Government says 'look, Facebook has all this big data, they can predict when someone's going to get pregnant.'... So they end up employing the technology automatically. "

The NSA is not alone in using technology while lacking a full understanding of it, and without the ability to utilize it efficiently, Rushkoff said.

His new book, "Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now", argues that priorities of the moment dominate most people's lives because of the interconnectivity of current technology. In order to curb this "present shock," society must invest in future priorities and stop being chronically distracted by technology such as social media. (The book's title is an apparent play on "Future Shock," the 1970 bestseller by futurist Alvin Toffler.)

"We are twice removed from the operating system," Rushkoff said. "We're once removed in that we don't understand the technology, and then we're twice removed in that we think that the institutional bias can't be changed."

Posted by Reid Davenport on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM


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Reader comments

Mon, Jun 17, 2013

"We are twice removed from the operating system," Rushkoff said. "We're once removed in that we don't understand the technology, and then we're twice removed in that we think that the institutional bias can't be changed."

If we were still in the Garden of Eden, then what we have would be good, but too many folks forget in the flush of the freedom to interact that the freer you and your 'friends' are, the better your 'not friends' can also have fun. Personally, working with and understanding this technology, I value my privacy over having everyone know that I am away from home and will be busy for a while (or putting pictures up that in 10 years when you might grow up, you realize that they are not what you want to be seen as being, but it is too late to get rid of them).

In regards to the title and the implication of this article, the scariest part of NSA doing all this data gathering is that it is all in one place now for the Chinese to siphon off.

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