Listening to Rushkoff's Life Inc. during a long car commute has been setting my brain on fire. He touches on all kinds of things I'd never heard anyone mention except for bits and pieces in Znet and on Chomsky Audio CDs. He mentions GM killing off the street(trolley) cars, not just the 'conspiracy' trial where the behemoth corporation was fined, but also the rival bus-lines they operated, creating an environment where car choices came to seem natural. I'd never heard the explanation of car society developed that far before. No one besides Stephen Shalom in the tutorials of an early incarnation of Znet had told me about a government figure and GM bigwig replying to concerns about conflics of interest with the pithy "What's good for GM is good for the country." Of course Shalom followed it up by mentioning how Kennedy(or somebody) differed from the GM-appointing Republican president in that Kennedy named a Ford executive to the same position.
I see that Rushkoff was on the Colbert Report, did I miss an appearance by Stephen Shalom? What makes Rushkoff's broadsides on the corporation and the economy more accessible in the media than Znet critics? Could it just be terminology – what if Parecon and Participatory Politics and everything(ParSoc? Am I missing any?) rebranded themselves as Economy Redesign – You're the Designer Now, Open Source Politics – Hack The System. Could it be done without losing substance? Can the toolbox be translated into Web 2.0 jargon, can you go from MVC(Model View Contro)l to Allocation, Consumption and Production(ACP)? Why is one demanding field and approach so much more accessible and attractive to people than another? — I think I could go find Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert discussing reasons for people avoiding certain areas and using their capacities to think about sports or something trivial bus safe, but this context has an updated dimension to the question. Maybe it could be entertaining for programmers and designers to focus some attention on institutions, and add some energy and participation to the social movements that are going to have to save the world from climate catastrophe, water crises, war, poverty and any other pressing systemic abuse you can think of.
Life Inc. is also fascinating in arousing and urge to get started on the redesign, it's just so up close and personal. If you've every been to a mall you've been the object of attempts to manipulate you. I thought the Born To Buy and Consuming Kids were shocking with the money, expertise and effort put into understanding and influencing kids just to sell them particular products. Who knew that the Shopping Mall since 1956 was making use of security camera footage and psychology specialties to sell the maximum number of products in the least amount of time. I guess you sort of know, but the details make you conscious of the water you been swimming in.
The size of the store's counter makes you feel bad about buying only one item. Designed Disorientation destroys your concentration with the "Gruen Transfer" in order to make you impulse buy. It made me think of sporadically reading parts of John Varley's Gaean Trilogy. One character had headaches while rebelling against the planet. It turns out she had a little creature placed in her head that was literally screwing her brain. Did John Varley grow up in Levittown listening to the Rolling Stones singing "Mother's Little Helper" wondering about where these pressures to conform came from? The pressures were intentionally designed into the layout of the houses(both inside and in relation to each other) and all the while spurred on by conscious advertising. I'm wondering what's keeping Rushkoff from hooking up with Znet or hanging out with Griftopia's Matt Taibbi talking about Alan Greenspan as the "biggest BLANK in the universe." Is it more than a question of style than anything? _Life Inc._ audio keeps up such a pleasant tone, even while telling you about Alan Greenspan bottom feeding on indebted people maxing out their credit cards at a "Wealth Expo." The bigger conflict of interest revelation for me was Alan Greenspan getting paid as an advisor to John Paulson's hedge fund that made billions by 'shorting' toxic mortgages he helped set up. Greenspans was directly making money off the doomed bubble his flawed model inflated. I'm getting interested in comparing Rushkoff's "Open Democracy" writing with Znet Participatory Politics offerings.. I've been wondering if Justin Podur is going to discover him and share his thoughts like he did with China Mieville and Alfie Kohn.