| February 17, 2011
Douglas Rushkoff launched a new book last year entitled, “Program or Be Programmed.” His basic premise is that we need to get a grip on ourselves and break the tyranny of technology.
“What tyranny?” You ask, simultaneously glancing at the envelope icon on your toolbar. Yes, that tyranny. The tyranny imposed by the Apple, RIM or Microsoft interface. The tyranny imposed by our iPad, BlackBerry or Dell hardware. Come on, you know it’s true…if only multitasking left you time to think about it. I just proved my own point.
Here I am a few minutes into writing a blog post, and I cannot resist a quick look at Outlook, Gmail and Facebook to make sure nothing new is going on. Now I have lost my train of thought. Ah the joys of multitasking.
As Rushkoff states in this interview on NPR’s On Point, we all believe we can multitask in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
OK, having focused on this post for a couple of minutes, I am now back on track. I want you to listen to this interview because there are so many points made in it that are relevant to our jobs as marketers and market researchers.
No, not listen and read your e-mail or IM, I mean give it your undivided attention. Here are three points I thought worth calling out:
- “Getting information is fine but it is not an end result.” OK, read that again and this time focus on what it means. Rushkoff is commenting on the value of Google. He suggests it is a great source of information but that the information you can glean from it is a beginning not an end. In that sense, information gathered from Google is just like information gathered from a market research study. It is a commodity unless you add value to it, or create something new from it.
- The (insert technology of your choice here, e.g. BlackBerry, iPhone or iPad) is a one arm bandit. There is a horrid fascination with the (technology of your choice). Somehow what happens on that little screen draws our attention away from what’s going on around us. So put down that (technology of your choice) and step away from it. Remind yourself what your spouse and kids look like. For that matter maybe you should do that with your colleagues, clients and business partners.
- Think critically. I am not sure I agree with Rushkoff that we need to learn to program to break the tyranny of technology, but I absolutely agree that we need to stop taking things at face value. Facebook is for finding friends? No it is for monetizing your friends. Can’t play Flash on your iPhone? There is a reason for that too.
And, of course, the same is true of market research data. You cannot take it at face value or if you do, you risk making some very bad recommendations. To read a previous post on this, click here.
These are just three of the points I took away from the interview but there are many more. Even if you do not have time to listen to the interview (What are you going to do instead? Check your e-mail?) do check out Rushkoff’s 10 commands for breaking the tyranny of technology. I love number five, “Thou shalt never be completely right.”
OK, that was fun. You are now free to check e-mail and status updates…or perhaps you could leave a comment here?