Book Notes – Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Posted: January 29, 2014 by Todd in Books, Culture
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present shock


Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

Douglas Rushkoff – 2013, Current

Finished August, 2013.

Douglas Rushkoff on Twitter: @rushkoff
Chapter 1– Narrative Collapse – Makes the case that we’ve lost our narrative framework and tend to gravitate towards that which provides meaning/entertainment in the present

Narrative Collapse
frames that make meaning are being replaced with present experience

Big Stories
Big/meta stories are fading away

Now-ist Pop Culture is Born
more self-referential humor

The beginning, the middle, and the end have almost no meaning. The gist is experienced in each moment as new connections are made and false stories are exposed or reframed. In short, these sorts of shows teach pattern recognition, and they do it in real time. [more…]

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Locations 418-420). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Narrativity is replaced by something more like putting together a puzzle by making connections and recognizing patterns.

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Location 510). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Reality Bytes
Shows setup to incite conflict; very short attention spans favor extreme sports, very short video clips

Real-Time Feed: The CNN Effect
There is less time to reflect.

Occupy Reality
Tea Partiers mean to wipe out the chaotic confusion of a world without definitive stories; the Occupiers mean to embed themselves within it so that new forms may emerge. It’s not an easy sell. The Tea Party’s high-profile candidates and caustic rhetoric are as perfectly matched for the quick-cut and argument-driven programming of the cable news networks as the Occupiers are incompatible. Though both movements are reactions to the collapse of compelling and believable narratives, the Tea Party has succumbed to and even embraced the crisis mentality, while Occupy Wall Street attempts to transcend it.

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Locations 808-812). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Infinite Games
Fit with our movement towards the present over narrative

Chapter 2 – Digiphrenia: Breaking up is hard to do
Time is a technology
People are analog.
Time itself is a technological innovation that has unfolded over time.
“The timekeeper is no longer the controller of the clock, but the programmer of the computer.”

There are rhythms, phases, etc. embedded in us biologically that interact in unique ways – good and bad with the new digital order.

Pacing and Leading
How do we react and harness digital tools in light of chronobiology?

The Space Between the Ticks
we no longer observe analog time; time is more chronos than kairos

Do Drone Pilots Dream of Electric Kills?
What does it mean to fight a war where only one side’s troops are in jeopardy, and the other side may as well be playing a video game?

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Locations 1743-1744). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

“human attention” – the new scarcity (1784)

In the digital realm we are either the programmers or the programmed—

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Locations 1859-1860). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Chapter 3 – Overwinding
long clock – that operates on a 10,000 year cycle instead of a 24/12 hour one [idea: kingdom clock]

We’ll call this temporal compression overwinding— the effort to squish really big timescales into much smaller or nonexistent ones. It’s the effort to make the “now” responsible for the sorts of effects that actually take real time to occur—

Rushkoff, Douglas (2013-03-21). Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Kindle Locations 1932-1934). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.

Time binding – we “can take the experiences and pass it on to the next generation through language symbols.”  “Each generation can begin where the former left off.”

Chapter 4 – Fractalnoia
We’re looking for patterns – whether they exist or not.  Present connections and relationships between things matter more than static knowledge.
Chapter 5 – Apocalypto
Apocalypto is the belief in the imminent shift of humanity into an unrecognizably different form.

[Todd: I think DR misreads Teilhard de Chardain and Kevin Kelly.]
[Todd: DR portrays resistance to the “singularity” to be very much at odds with the grain of society.  I think he’s overstating it.  DR champions the uniqueness of human beings.]
An “apocalypto” perspective evades responsibility and grants technology superiority.
“We look to technology not merely as our replacement but as our heir.” (3666)  To which DR says, “the reports of our death may be greatly exaggerated.”
Present shock provides the perfect cultural and emotional pretexts for apocalyptic thinking.
Time was a solution to the theological conflict introduced by monotheism.  Time is monotheistic theodicy.

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