67 - Douglas Rushkoff & Michael Phillip (Playing For Team Human)

This week’s guest is media theorist, culture critic, author, graphic novelist, documentarian, and podcaster Douglas Rushkoff! Chances are you’re a “digital native” banking on “social currency” and consuming “viral media” – which means that you are living in the world Doug prophesied for all of us back in the 1990s. 

I watched his debut documentary on social marketing, Merchants of Cool, in my college Introduction to Film class (which is how you know my teacher was, in fact, cool). His book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now was one of the core inspirations for this podcast and its examinations of time in the digital age remain some of my most frequently-recommended writing. 

More recently his book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus launched a vital conversation about how to make sure that the “superabundance” of digital society actually MAKES IT TO THE PEOPLE. And his podcast Team Human offers new insightful conversations every week about how we can sculpt a future for the 100%-ers – a world that welcomes everybody, that lets everyone in, that finds something meaningful for all of us to do and be.

Doug’s written shelves on our new media environment and how the digital surround retrieves our magical antiquity. He’s issued potent cautions to us, that we must Program Or Be Programmed. He’s spent his entire life helping us find the bottom-up to complement the top-down that we’re stuck with…to help everyone be literate enough to make it in this modern world.

And in this episode, he looks back on his life’s work, and forward to the great responsibility we bear to help imagine systems, cultures, and relationships for a more humane and equitable future…

Doug’s podcast:


Doug’s website:


This week we’re also joined by guest co-host Michael Phillip of Third Eye Drops, our sister podcast, which I’m on A LOT – episodes 102, 88, 58, 44 with Doug Rushkoff, 38 with Niles Heckman, 28 with Bruce Damer, 21 with Erik Davis, 9 with Shane Mauss, 4 with Erik Davis, and this special mashup episode – and who has appeared on Future Fossils to talk about Westworld in Episode 14 and the Blockchain in Episode 52.

We Discuss:

• the ethical necessity of finding planet-scale solutions that work for ALL of us, not just a certain economic class; 

• the externalized ecological costs of Bitcoin; 

• how sigils and other ancient magical practices have been modernized for info warfare in the modern age; 

• how the culture of our global information economy retrieves the gods of antiquity; 

• the conflict of interests between our present and future selves; 

• the problem with futurists as propagandists and how we use “the future” as a way to manipulate people;

• and more!

Doug Quotes:

“The aspect of the blockchain that is the most real at this point is the environmental destruction…the smartest scientists I know have given up on the environment. They’re saying, ‘Let’s just have dinner. This is it.’ If that’s the case, then it feels like every conversation about blockchain has to start and end with that. It’s like, ‘Okay, while we’re destroying the planet with technology, isn’t it an interesting model for this and that…?’”

“It’s all just sigil magic on a certain level…although now you can express it through code, instead of just alchemy.”

“As far as the virtual is actual, the virtual is tied to our actual well-being. So thanks to cyberspace, we have a place where all of that symbolic activity becomes real – or at least as real as we’re willing to make this stuff. Your FICO score is on there. This is the landscape that’s defining our reality. So it turns programmers into potential magicians of unprecedented power.”

“The gods that we are looking at today a re subsets of capitalism. They are really more unintended consequences of people looking to game the system, than they are the natural flowering of some higher power, higher agenda. So we’re in a similar relationship to those things, but we don’t want to be re-enacting those things. We want to be, if anything, recognizing them and creating alternatives.”

“Psychologically, they found that people relate to their own future selves the same way they relate to a stranger. So the person you’re saving retirement money for is just some old guy. So on some level, I don’t really care so much if that person is suffering in the cold, because I want an iPhone X. So screw him.” 

“Especially in the heady days of early WIRED Magazine, where they’re saying, ‘Look! Everything’s changing! The tsunami’s coming! You better hire some futurists to tell you where it’s going or you’re all going to die’…I was arguing that it’s fine, that all futurists are propagandists of a certain sort. So if I’m going to be a futurist, I’m going to propagandize a world of peace and love and the egalitarian sensibility that we’re all moving into, NOT a long stock market boom of infinite wealth for venture capitalists.”

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188 - LARPing as a Nation-State with Jon Hillis & 0xZakk of CABIN DAO and Christian Lemp of Diamond DAO

Ep. 188
Complete, EXTENSIVE show notes at Patreon.com/michaelgarfield!As guest 0xZakk says at the very end of this conversation, most of the construction projects throughout the history of civilization have been coercive. What does it look like when we actually build things in a really cooperative way? This episode was recorded in November 2021 when the cryptocurrency markets were insanely bullish and the world relatively stable…but releasing it now, in July 2022, seems more aptly-timed than I could have anticipated.The United States Supreme Court has failed the great majority of American citizens not just once but several shocking and historic times in one week, hacking away at women’s reproductive rights, the EPA, and gun safety all at once. The Supreme Court majority was largely appointed by presidents that lost the popular vote, our nation is embroiled in hearings about a violent coup attempt spearheaded by the former President, and people on both sides of the constructed political divide seem more desperate than ever before in living memory. At the same time, both stocks and digital currencies, and the economic possibilities they support, are suffering through what seems like it will be a protracted winter. So it’s a PERFECT moment to talk about the visions we commit to building through the hardship, and the new responsibilities we must assume as citizens — not just of nation-states, but of the digital communities and cultures that we voluntarily participate in, the neighborhoods and cities that we live in.When a big tree dies in the forest, its falling lets in light that stimulates a contest between saplings — and we’re seeing something similar now in this rapid blooming of experiments in governance and finance, legal regulations and privately-organized society. Suddenly projects like the CABIN DAO seem prescient and urgent, so I’m glad to share this potent conversation with Jon Hillis and @0xZakk of CABIN DAO and Christian Lemp of Diamond DAO —three of the many people working hard at the frontiers of blockchain-based social innovation. In this episode we talk about what it means to live-action roleplay as a city-state, how physical geography and online culture overlap in their experiments, and what should stay illegible and wild amidst this wave of techy change…If you enjoy this show, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, and review wherever you prefer to listen. I’ve been extremely busy backstage working on a suite of Future Fossils projects that extend beyond the podcast, some of which you can glimpse on my Instagram and Twitter feeds…big changes coming soon, and inspiration’s flowing. If you want the inner track on all the music, art, and writing I am cooking up — or if you simply see the value in these conversations and my work at large, I hope you’ll join the other awesome people chipping in with listener support at Patreon.com/michaelgarfield— where I’m sharing an enormous folder of new A.I. artwork, updated every day.Lastly, I just re-launched my now thirteen-year-old blog on Substack — for roughly monthly digests of new work, join 7,500 other readers at michaelgarfield.substack.com. More soon.

187 - Fear & Loathing on the Electronic Frontier with Kevin Welch & David Hensley of EFF-Austin

Ep. 187
Find the complete show notes for this episode on Patreon. This episode was recorded live in Austin, Texas at the West China Tea House in partnership with EFF-Austin, a non-profit committed to the establishment and protection of digital rights and defense of the wealth of digital information, innovation, and technology. Founded in 1991 as a local sub-chapter of The Electronic Frontier Foundation and run as an independent organization, EFF-Austin promotes the right of all citizens to communicate and share information without unreasonable constraint— as well as the fundamental right to explore, tinker, create, and innovate along the frontier of emerging technologies. In this episode, I talk with Kevin Welch and David Hensley about why digital rights matter to our analog lives; whether and how the genies of rampant technological innovation can be forced back into the bottle; how to think about the inherent tensions between individuals and institutions; what esoteric traditions and superhero movies may have to teach us about living in the 21st century, and considerably more. I also make entirely too many references to Michael Crichton novels.I’ve collaborated with EFF-Austin on previous episodes of Future Fossils you may also enjoy:33 - Jon Lebkowsky (Pluralist Utopias & The World Wide Web's Wild West)92 - Panel: The Pre- and Post-History of VR, Surveillance, and Swarm IntelligenceAgain, Patreon is really the place you want to be checking out the resources for this show (and, of course, it's the place to go to take a shower in the awesome stuff I reserve for supporters).