After Douglas Rushkoff wrote Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, a book talking about how the digital economy can be reshaped so that everyone can prosper, he started getting dozens of emails a day asking practical questions–how to create a worker co-op, how to design an app that isn’t “extractive” of users, how to use technology in a way that doesn’t destroy the environment.
In a new podcast called Team Human, he gets into those details. “All those sorts of questions are answerable,” he says. “There are people who are working in these fields. So I thought what the show could do is really help people find the others. Where are the other people doing this? How do I get the knowledge and the resources to actually do something?”
In the first episode, he talks with the founders of the Debt Collective, an Occupy-inspired project that buys back student debt and releases it. Along with the interview, there’s a page of resources, from how to organize to fight debt to background on health care debt and links to projects like the Campaign for Free Student Tuition.
In other early episodes, he talks with a labor activist about worker cooperatives in the digital age, a futurist who worked on the Panama Papers investigation, and an artist who scrapes DNA from subways and creates 3D masks representing the people it came from.
The podcast is meant to push for deeper conversations than might happen on other platforms. “I want to challenge my friends with the same kinds of questions that I have, the nagging, awful self-doubt that all of us leftist progressives have about what they’re doing,” he says. “Let’s push that through to another level. But then let’s also have what we might consider ‘bad guys’ come on. Let’s have the CEO of companies that are doing awful pollution. Let’s have the stockbrokers and the algorithm writers, whoever it is who we think we may not like, and engage with them as human beings.”
Rushkoff wants to talk about how we can design a more human-friendly future–reshaping technological and economic systems–at a time when businesses prioritize algorithms and profits over people. “This is really trying to address what I see as a widespread need for solidarity around the issues that can help humans make it through the next century or so,” he says.
It’s also meant to share stories of human quirks–the type of fringe culture that the early internet once celebrated. “Team Human is largely about kind of folding that fringe stuff back into the center and selling it as not just weird and fun but as necessary to our future as a species,” he says.
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