Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

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Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

by Douglas Rushkoff

Viking USA | March 26, 2013 | Hardcover

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“If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism."
 
This is the moment we've been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don't seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed re­ality that our human bodies and minds can never truly in­habit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.
 
People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.
 
Well, the future's arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this “now" is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.
 
Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.
 
As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.
 
Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 3.36 × 2.31 × 0.42 in

Published: March 26, 2013

Publisher: Viking USA

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1591844762

ISBN - 13: 9781591844761

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– More About This Product –

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

by Douglas Rushkoff

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 3.36 × 2.31 × 0.42 in

Published: March 26, 2013

Publisher: Viking USA

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1591844762

ISBN - 13: 9781591844761

About the Book

An award-winning author explores how the world works in our age of "continuous now." According to Rushkoff, "presentism" is the new ethos of a society that's always on, in real time, updating live. He shows how this trend is both disorienting and exhilarating.

Read from the Book

  PREFACE He is one of the most prescient hedge fund managers on Wall Street, but his trades always seem to happen after the fact. That’s because as soon as he executes an order, it is observed and preempted by traders at bigger firms with faster computers. The spread changes, and his buy order goes through just a few fractions of a penny higher than it should have. He is trading in the past, longing for the software and geeks he needs to get into his competitors’ present. And his clients can no longer conceive of investing in a company’s future, anyway; they want to win on the trade itself, as it actually happens. She’s at a bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, but she seems oblivious to the boys and the music. Instead of engaging with those around her, she’s scrolling through text messages on her phone, from friends at other parties across town. She needs to know if the event she’s at is the event to be at, or whether something better is happening at that very moment, somewhere else. Sure enough, a blip on the tiny screen catches her interest, and in seconds her posse is in a cab headed for the East Village. She arrives at a seemingly identical party and decides it’s “the place to be,” yet instead of enjoying it, she turns her phone around, activates the camera, and proceeds to take pictures of herself and her friends for the next hour—instantly uploading them for the world to see her in the moment. He sees
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From the Publisher

“If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism."
 
This is the moment we've been waiting for, explains award-winning media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, but we don't seem to have any time in which to live it. Instead we remain poised and frozen, overwhelmed by an always-on, live-streamed re­ality that our human bodies and minds can never truly in­habit. And our failure to do so has had wide-ranging effects on every aspect of our lives.
 
People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.
 
Well, the future's arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this “now" is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.
 
Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behavior, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.
 
As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.
 
Absorbing and thought-provoking, Present Shock is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

About the Author

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF, PH.D., is a world-renowned media theorist whose twelve books, including Life Inc and Pro­gram or Be Programmed, have won prestigious awards and have been translated into thirty languages. He is a commentator on CNN and a contributor to the Guardian, Discover, and NPR. He also made the PBS documentaries The Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and Digital Nation. He advocates for digital literacy at Codecademy.com, and teaches at NYU and The New School. He lives in New York with his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Mamie.
 
Visit www.Rushkoff.com

Editorial Reviews

“This is a wondrously thought-provoking book. Unlike other social theorists who either mindlessly decry or celebrate the digital age, Rushkof f explores how it has caused a focus on the immediate moment that can be both disorienting and energizing.” —Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs   “Rushkoff gives readers a healthy dose of perspective, insight, and critical analysis that’s sure to get minds spinning and tongues wagging.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)   “In this refreshing antidote to promises of digital Utopia, Rushkoff articulates his own well-informed second thoughts. We should pay close attention—while we still can.” —George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral and Darwin Among the Machines   “If you read one book next year to help you make sense of the present moment, let it be Present Shock.” —Anthony Wing Kosner, Forbes.com   “ Present Shock holds up new lenses and offers new narratives about what might be happening to us and why, compelling readers to look at the larger repercussions of today’s technologically mediated social practices, from texting to checking in with a location-based service, jet-lag to The Simpsons , in new ways.” —Howard Rheingold, author of Net Smart   “A wide-ranging social and cultural critique, Present Shock artfully weaves through many different materials as it makes its point: we are ex
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