Taking a walk in the forest, bad for the economy – the colonalisation of time and attention in the digital age

American media-theorist Douglas Rushkoff sheds an interesting light on the digital age and its consequences for our relationship with the ‘now’ and with ‘others’. Companies are competing with each other for what he calls our ‘eye-ball’ attention. We are constantly seduced to use ICTs and it is turning us into restless creatures with short attention spans who are constantly providing clues to corporations as to what we like, prefer, desire, etc. “Big data” and constant streams of cookies are informing businesses (and, indeed, governments) about what we are thinking and these businesses and governments are anticipating this by offering us what we want, essentially guiding us into pre-fabricated futures. Do you find it hard to BE in one place without your mind wondering off to somewhere else?
In a fascinating near-monologue with powerful examples and a touch of irony and humour Rushkoff urges us to reclaim the now, the flow of time, the possibility of meaning and as sense of place and belonging. In his book Present Shock, When Everything Happens Now Rushkoff argues that we are all suffering from the five syndroms that belong to the ‘always-on-society’. We need to be reacheable 24/7 but are constantly alienated from the now and each other (and let me add the physical places of which we are part including nature, aw). A call for ‘digital detox’.

Note this is from Tegenlicht (April 13, 2014) from the Dutch TV station VPRO – click the link and wait for the programme to start – Rushkoff speaks to us in English (with Dutch subtitles. Very worthwhile if you have…. time… (NOTE The first minute or so is in Dutch when the interviewer introduces Ruskoff to the Dutch viewers, but then Rushkoff takes over – listen, shiver and learn).

Re-claiming time

p.s. this post links to an earlier post on “Growth fatigue and innovation saturation” from 2013.

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“Saving the Planet hurts the local economy” – Climate Change makes its way into the world’s classrooms

Ok – it has taken up the whole 10 years of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development but the day before Earth Day, April 22nd, a global newspaper, The International New York Times, published a half page article on the role of and the need for education for sustainable development with a specific focus on teaching climate change in schools. Hundreds, if not thousands of articles have been published about climate change and sustainable development but rarely do they make a reference to the role of education, teaching and learning. As the world is confronted with major ecological crises leading to or amplifying major social crises (and vice versa as well) it is about time that the media begin to engage the question of ‘how should education respond?’ ‘what should people be learning and how?’ The article – which you can find HERE: ESDinIntlNYTimes210414 – includes an interview with Alexander Leicht, Head of UNESCO’s Education for Sustainable Development section a number of other informants from various parts of the world. While there is a growing awareness that there is a need of involving people meaningfully in what seem to be the greatest challenges of our time the article also notes resistance to doing so. In Wyoming, for instance, law-makers blocked the teaching of climate change saying that doing so could hurt the local economy. This painfully makes clear the difficult situation we find ourselves in.