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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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