For someone who likes to talk about the virtues of disconnecting, the media critic Douglas Rushkoff seems surprisingly always on. When I visited him at his storefront office near his home in Hastings on Hudson, New York, he was preparing to teach a new class, getting ready for a BBC interview, writing an essay, staring down a pile of articles to read, trying to figure out his new iPhone, and hurrying to finish his third book in three years—a graphic novel called ADD, which revolves around gaming culture, celebrity, and the pharmaceutical industry. “It also asks the question,” he says, “what if attention deficit disorder weren’t a bug, but a feature?”
The hyper-speed hyperlinked life is familiar ground for Rushkoff, whose first book, Cyberia, made him a popular tour guide to the internet in the early 1990s and an early prognosticator of its radical potential. But much has changed between the awkward days of “the ’Net”—then a non-commercial collection of public networks, accessed by local ISPs—and the overloaded era of Facebook, YouTube, and iPhones. If Rushkoff is well versed in the language underneath the “digital revolution,” he’s also become one of its most outspoken critics.