Visiting Dignitaries

Douglas Rushkoff On The Terror of Time [VIDEO]

"Are we gonna give all our bloggers Adderall and stick ‘em in a room and tell ‘em to just churn out more shit?”

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 10.36.18 AMOver the course of 20 years, 15 books, and countless speeches and articles, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff has established quite a following among technophiles.

With titles like 2010’s Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, it’s no wonder folks like Andy Weissman quoted Mr. Rushkoff to explain why Union Square Ventures led a $2.5 million investment in Codecademy, a startup that teaches anyone programming languages like Ruby and Javascript. (Not long after, Codecademy announced Mr. Rushkoff would be joining their team as a “code literacy” evangelist.)

But while tomes like Program or Be Programmed or 1994’s Cyberia: Life in the Trenches of Cyberspace warned about the perils and responsibilities of digital citizenship, his latest book is all about time. Rather, it’s about how people are driving themselves insane by approaching time in unhealthy ways.

In Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, which just hit shelves a few days ago, Mr. Rushkoff coins ominous terms like “digiphrenia” (the kind of disorientation you get when you’re trying to process something as fast as Twitter and something as slow as a news article in the same sitting) and “fractalnoia” (the mistakes organizations make when they try to predict major future trends using small bits of data from the recent past).

Sound a bit heady? Don’t worry. To slow things down a bit, we took Mr. Rushkoff to Sutton Clocks, a sales and repair shop for antique timepieces on the Upper East Side. There, amidst the ticks and tocks, Mr. Rushkoff told us how misunderstanding time can cripple a workforce and tempt you to make dumb decisions.

Try to rein in your digiphrenia as you watch him explain what happens to our biological clock when the digital world treats day and night interchangeably and why the 24-hour blog-cycle is a terrible idea.

Abraham Riesman is a journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Manhattan. You can see his work at abrahamriesman.com.