CM 032: Doug Rushkoff on Redesigning the Economy

Blog Post - Doug RushkoffNamed one of ten most influential thinkers in the world by MIT, Doug Rushkoff asks some seriously big questions on this episode of Curious Minds.

The biggest one is: what if an economy predicated on growth is unsustainable? Growth at companies like General Electric (GE) used to mean jobs for hundreds of thousands of people. That same growth, at companies like Facebook and Google, yields, at most, tens of thousands of jobs. As growth-oriented tech companies absorb more jobs through smarter tech and automation, is this an opportunity to rethink the nature of work, jobs, and the overall economy?

Doug Rushkoff asks us to consider that topic in his latest bestselling book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity. Rushkoff is a professor of media theory and digital economics at Queens College, CUNY. He is the bestselling author of a dozen other books, including Present Shock, Program or Be Programmed, and Life Inc.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Why Doug sees growth as the culprit in our current economy
  • The unmet promise of technology and the long tail for artists and creatives
  • How big data analytics reduces unpredictability and, thereby, innovation
  • Ways more of us can take ownership of the platforms putting us out of work
  • How it is not the job we want but the meaning, purpose, and material benefits work gives
  • Money as a verb
  • How currency tools like blockchain can help us rethink power and authority
  • Twitter as a textbook case of tech success but growth company failure
  • How digital distributism can trump digital industrialism
  • The shift from tech as energizing to energy sucking

Ruskhoff also talks about how he thinks about technology use in his own life, including which tools he chooses to use and why.

Selected Links to Topics Mentioned


Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Doug Rushkoff



Operating system



Burning Man




Chris Anderson

Long Tail

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Free by Chris Anderson

Mondo 2000

Boing Boing

Ponzi scheme

Alan Greenspan

Taylor Swift

Power law dynamics


Venture capital

Capital gains tax



PGP – pretty good privacy




Marshall McLuhan

Peer-to-peer economy



Faustian bargain

Private equity

Flip this house

Michael Dell

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

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