#041 Playing for Team Human
All hands on deck for the Renaissance, with Douglas Rushkoff
Douglas Rushkoff has been recognised as one of the “world’s ten most influential intellectuals” by MIT. Many of you will know him from the popular Team Human podcast, which has led to this award-winning, best-selling author writing the Team Human book. And frankly, it’s a masterpiece. Comprehensive, readable and vital, it’s a manifesto for reclaiming our humanity in the digital age. Walter Isaacson calls it “A provocative, exciting, and important rallying cry to reassert our human spirit of community and teamwork.”
Douglas rose to public prominence in the early 1990s as he helped to shape the internet. He wrote a series of books during that time examining the intersection of technology and popular culture, in which he coined terms like ‘viral media’, ‘digital natives’, ‘screenagers’ and ‘social currency’. But after two decades of documenting the hi-tech counterculture, Douglas began to realise the mess we were getting in. His 2009 book and documentary, Life Inc., told the story of an economic and social collapse 500 years in the making. Now he offers us the Team Human manifesto, powerfully framed as a call to a human Renaissance - restoring what we scarcely realise we’ve lost from the last one.
This, from the publisher’s blurb on the book: ‘Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation; education, conceived as way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line; and the internet has further divided us into increasingly atomized and radicalized groups. If we are to resist and survive these destructive forces, we must recognize that being human is a team sport. If we can find the others who understand this fundamental truth and reassert our humanity—together—we can make the world a better place to be human.’
Douglas joins Anthony online from his office in New York, for this personal exchange on his time in the theatre, his moment of personal enlightenment, how it led to his work with technology and the net, and on to the broader contexts of business, the economy, religion, the value (or otherwise) of stories, psychedelics and podcasts(!) - and ultimately, of course, how to be human in this time when it’s all hands on deck.
With thanks to Bobbie Johnson for his 2009 piece in The Guardian on Douglas’ Life Inc. work, for some of the copy we’ve referenced here.
Title slide pic thanks to the Team Human podcast.
Good Vibrations, composed by Brian Wilson & Mike Love of The Beach Boys, and performed here by Psychic TV.
Haiti Vodou: 1, by Beau Flamme.