Present Shock: Book summary and reviews of Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff

Present Shock

When Everything Happens Now

By Douglas Rushkoff

Present Shock
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2013,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

An award-winning author explores how the world works in our age of "continuous now"

Back in the 1970s, futurism was all the rage. But looking forward is becoming a thing of the past. According to Douglas Rushkoff, "presentism" is the new ethos of a society that's always on, in real time, updating live. Guided by neither history nor long term goals, we navigate a sea of media that blend the past and future into a mash-up of instantaneous experience.

Rushkoff shows how this trend is both disorienting and exhilarating. Without linear narrative we get both the humiliations of reality TV and the associative brilliance of The Simpsons. With no time for long term investing, we invent dangerously compressed derivatives yet also revive sustainable local businesses. In politics, presentism drives both the Tea Party and the Occupy movement.

In many ways, this was the goal of digital technology - outsourcing our memory was supposed to free us up to focus on the present. But we are in danger of squandering this cognitive surplus on trivia. Rushkoff shows how we can instead ground ourselves in the reality of the present tense.

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Reviews

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"Starred Review. By highlighting five areas (the rise of moronic reality TV; our need to be omnipresent; the need to compress time in order to achieve our goals; the compulsion to connect unrelated concepts in an effort to make better sense of them; and a gnawing sense of one's obsolescence), Rushkoff gives readers a healthy dose of perspective, insight, and critical analysis that's sure to get minds spinning and tongues wagging." - Publishers Weekly

"Media theorist Rushkoff (Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, 2011, etc.) returns with a dire prognosis of society's ills. Though exaggerated, many of the author's assertions can be summed up thusly: Technology has ruined everything, and nothing is as good as it used to be...Sure to be loved by readers who enjoy telling kids to get off their damn lawn, but unlikely to gain traction with a wider audience." - Kirkus

"This is a wondrously thought-provoking book. Unlike other social theorists who either mindlessly decry or celebrate the digital age, Rushkoff explores how it has caused a focus on the immediate moment that can be both disorienting or energizing. In an era that seems intent on deleting the art of narrative, Rushkoff creates a compelling narrative of the way we now live." – Walter Isaacson

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Author Information

Douglas Rushkoff Author Biography

Douglas Rushkoff (b. 18 February 1961) is a New York-based writer, columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture. His best-selling books on new media and popular culture have been translated to over thirty languages. He has written and hosted two award-winning Frontline documentaries. His commentaries have aired on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered and have appeared in publications from The New York Times to TIME magazine. Rushkoff is on the board of several new media non-profits and companies, and regularly consults on new media arts and ethics to museums, governments, synagogues, churches, and universities, as well as Sony, TCI, advertising agencies, and other Fortune 500 companies. Rushkoff is the Technology and Culture Consultant to the United ...

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