The history of industrialization is the separation of workers from their labor, and it continues today in the digital marketplace where online companies seek to replace human labor with algorithms.
Every time you navigate an automated telephone menu — a recorded voice helping you do what a receptionist could help you with in half the time — you are experiencing an early form of digital industrialization. Today, more sophisticated algorithms are replacing human employees, further separating workers from their labor.
Companies like Facebook no longer depend on traditional economic exchanges to turn profit, so what does this mean for the consumer? When we're not paying money, we're paying in other ways, says Douglas Rushkoff.
Online businesses were originally measured by how much they sold. Makes sense, right? That's how economics is taught. But today, the largest online companies depend on an "economy of likes" to make money, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff. Valuations for companies like Facebook depend largely on their user base, he says, rather than their actual profits. An interesting case in point is Jay-Z's partnership with Samsung.
It's harder for most people to making a living now than it was before the rise of online businesses like Facebook and Amazon. That's because the digital economy is hurting the real economy.
It's harder for most people to making a living now than it was before the rise of online businesses like Facebook and Amazon. That's because the digital economy is hurting the real economy, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff. Competition is increasingly fierce in just about every industry, and digital technologies have allowed companies to pursue monopolies like never before — because they chase the entire world's population as a customer base.
I was just fascinated watching these guys doing coding during the day and scraping peyote off cactuses at night and going to raves until morning.
I got my second big wave of interest in digital technology when the weirdest and most psychedelic people I knew from Princeton, where I went to college, ended up moving out to California to become part of the digital revolution in the mid to late ‘80’s.
Douglas Rushkoff is an American media theorist, writer, columnist, lecturer, graphic novelist and documentarian. He is best known for his association with the early cyberpunk culture, and his advocacy of open source solutions to social problems.
He is the bestselling author of Present Shock, as well as a dozen other books on media, technology, and culture, including Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc., and most recently Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. Named one of the world’s ten most influential thinkers by MIT, Rushkoff has made documentaries for PBS Frontline, including Generation Like and The Merchants of Cool, and he is a professor of media theory and digital economics at Queens College, CUNY. He lives in New York and lectures about media, society, and economics around the world.