Ep. 129 Clive Thompson “The Lust for Scale”

May 01, 2019

Playing for Team Human today and closing out this season of the show; author and New York Times and Wired contributor Clive Thompson. Clive is a keen observer of human beings and the way different media and technological environments change how we see ourselves and our purpose. His latest book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World, looks at the ways coders are engaged in not only programing our technologies, but programming our reality. In this free-form Team Human conversation, Douglas and Clive discuss the embedded logic behind the codes that shape our society– looking all the way back to Torah, and then on to contemporary platforms.

What values are being coded into our everyday experience? Is there still space for that very human, weird, and eclectic expressions of technology we once celebrated at the dawn of the internet?

Rushkoff and Thompson bring both a critical eye and sense of hope to the project of writing human virtue and value back into the programming that shapes our experience of the world.

Douglas opens with a monologue on the significance of language, specifically the machine metaphors, that also shape our understanding of reality. What do we lose when we think of human persons as as objects, “human resources,” inputs and outputs? Is there something more to being human than just being a producer in a system?

Team Human will be taking a much needed break. We’ll still be working, just at a more human pace. We’re going to spend some time updating, planning, and researching the next season. Take some time to dig through the archive of our 129 shows. Check out the Team Human manifesto. Spread the word, and meet us back here soon.

A special thanks to our radio broadcast partners at KSPC 88.7 FM broadcasting from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. You can stream the show at KSPC.org where Team Human plays on Sundays at 11am Pacific Time.

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Thanks also to our many subscribers and supporters. You keep this show alive. You can find one another most easily on a new Reddit that was started by some Team Human listeners, so that everyone can find one another more easily. That’s reddit.com/r/teamhuman

Check out Douglas’s regular column on Medium, featuring expanded versions of the monologues you hear each week opening the show.

Team Human happens each week thanks to the generous support of our listeners on Patreon. Your support makes the hours of labor that go into each show possible. You can also help by reviewing the show on iTunes.

On this episode you heard Fugazi’s “Foreman’s Dog” in the intro thanks to the kindness of the band and Dischord Records. Mid-show you heard R.U. Sirius’s President Mussolini Makes the Planes Run On Time as well as transition music thanks to Herkimer Diamonds. This episode concludes with Mike Watt ’s beak-holding-letter-man plus a Team Human original by Stephen Bartolomei.

Team Human is a production of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at CUNY/Queens College. Our associate producer is Josh Chapdelaine; our community manager is Michael Bass; our virtual futurist is Luke Robert Mason; our photographer is Erin Locasio, our stage manager is Christa Needham. Team Human is produced by Stephen Bartolomei.


Thanks for joining Team Human – our last best hope for peeps.


Code Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Clive Photo by Liz Maney






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