Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus


We live in a “winner take all” culture, epitomized by Donald Trump, who will say anything to win. By “win” Trump means that “the other guys” must lose…this is ego gratification for the king of the narcissists in our narcissistic business economy. But is the winner-take-all model in competitive head-to-head combat a good business strategy going forward into the digital age? Douglas Rushkoff has a new book out (which might be a companion to The Filter Bubble), titled THROWING ROCKS AT THE GOOGLE BUS, and in it he argues no. The primitive empire business model of “growth at all cost” is too costly to sustain, especially if we expect any middle class to survive. Uber is putting out of business many private taxi services, while disavowing any responsibility for what its drivers do…while those drivers make the minimum wage on average, after expenses. Twitter evolved from a useful app to shareholder demands for world domination, selling the personal data of its subscribers to the highest bidder and forcing more and more ads on its users. Coke and Pepsi have put out of business many small bottlers by demanding control over exclusive shelf space for its unhealthy products. Instead of fostering optimization of the internet for the benefit of all, the growth model of short term profits now has companies hoping to employ robots to enslave the public in ways that will hurt as much as help. Technology is being used in short-sighted ways in order to maximize profits, channel more to the super rich at the top, and to leave everyone else eating dust. These days, on iTunes, the odds of “winning” are far less than previously for anyone not already connected and rich. Will anyone on The Voice sit in the judge’s chair, except as a joke? They tell you, “you can take it all, and become a superstar.” Sure, but you have about as much chance of that as winning the lottery. It’s as though The Bachelor now had 428 women after him in the same time frame instead of 28. Good luck getting a real relationship off the ground. Or making a splash without a nip slip event going viral, followed by a Shark Tank appearance. Rushkoff offers alternatives to the cynical "Mr. Wonderful" model of trying to join the upper .1% at the expense of the vast majority who are disadvantaged by the model and its ruthless Avatar algorithms. His solution is to encourage corporations that work on alternative models that emphasize employee and customer benefits over exploitation and extraction of value to meet unrealistic quarterly goals. Publix is the most profitable grocery store chain (with the highest satisfaction to employees and customers) because it was set up as a sharing enterprise, as opposed to Wal Mart. "Jack Welsh of GE was worshiped as a model CEO, but what did he do? Decided that making stuff was less profitable than selling credit to buy stuff, and sold the manufacturing to China, while pushing paper debt and firing people. And the markets decided to reward those who make money from money rather than from creating value and products." But the future is not sustainable without cooperation and sharing. And in the intellectual property arena, talent is overlooked and opportunities squandered while we follow famous media icons, and buy only bestsellers or top selling albums simply because they get the most hits. Except crowds don’t always get it right, especially when lied to, and directed by only sales or polls. Germany was wrong in WWII, and we are now. But it’s not too late. Yet. Douglas Rushkoff is the author of Present Shock as well as a dozen other bestselling books on media, technology, and culture, including Program or Be Programmed, Media Virus, Life Inc and the novel Ecstasy Club. He is Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens. He made the television documentaries Generation Like, Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders, and Digital Nation. He lives in New York, and lectures about media, society, and economics around the world. This audiobook is read by the author. AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH.


No comments:

Post a Comment