Nothing that Rushkoff writes in this clipped, angry book should surprise most readers. Nobody who has spent any time tracking the pronouncements and feuds of the more futurist-minded tech elites would think many had a high opinion of or interest in improving the daily lot of carbon-based life forms. Though predictable and at times a bit too broadly defined, the depth of anti-humanist sentiment related by Rushkoff is still harrowing and illuminating ... Although this of-the-moment book contains little context dating back more than three decades, Rushkoff does not try to claim everything about the Mindset is new. He points instead to how illogical power fantasies have merged with an Ayn Randian cult of the solitary hero and been nurtured by the Web’s seductive capacity for self-aggrandizing mythmaking. Given how much he may have contributed to those seductions, he is the right messenger ... loses some of its impact when delivering suggestions for how to push back (don’t give in to the inevitability of doom, buy local, fight for anti-monopoly laws). That is partly because it is difficult for them to seem equal to the magnitude of the problem. But for Rushkoff, the smallness of the solutions is part of the point.
The Insulation Equation is a provocative and illuminating concept, and Rushkoff devotes much of the book to tracing the manifestations and origins of a mind-set that seduces people into believing they can insulate themselves from harms they help create ... Rushkoff provides a powerful critique of the attitudes and technologies that enable these deceptions. His arguments about their ultimate origins and his suggestions for how to improve our economy and future, however, are not persuasive ... The trouble starts with a confused and simplistic attack on empirical science and quantifications. Attempting to recast the terms 'Western' and 'empirical' as insults, he rails against a 'Western, empirical approach to science that breaks everything down into parts rather than emphasizing the connections and interactions between all these things.' This is a cartoonish portrait; many ecologists, biologists and other scientists study interactions both within and between complex systems. It’s a shame that the book stoops to such ill-considered broadsides ... Rushkoff’s proposed solutions, rehearsed in a rapid paragraph near the end of the book, focus on consuming less and regulating and taxing industries more. These are good if familiar ideas, but they cannot be implemented well without careful empirical study. How much less do we need to consume, and in what sectors of the economy, and over what time frame? What is the comparative efficacy of different potential regulations, and what green technologies are most promising? ... These sorts of questions should not be answered by scientists alone; they also have moral and political dimensions. But they are impossible to answer without careful scientific analysis. Science is necessary to creating a livable future. It’s just not sufficient.
At this point we’re only a few pages into this book, and it seems as if there should be a wild ride ahead. Unfortunately, rather than studying the mad plans of the rich to survive the apocalypse, Rushkoff is far more interested in why they think one is coming, and how it informs everything they do, a view that trickles down to the rest of us. He calls this 'the Mindset'. The thing is, while the Mindset is interesting, it’s not nearly as interesting as the bonkers escape plans to which it leads ... One problem with this book is that I’m simply not convinced that the rich separating themselves from the poor is new, or anything to do with the tech age at all. I mean, I’ve seen Titanic. Another problem is that when Rushkoff considers different futures, he grows decidedly woolly ... Right at the end he discusses 'bounded economics', in which small communities reinvest their profits back into themselves, a clear alternative to the dominant capitalist idea of sucking the world dry and running away. Like a lot of this book, though, this is discussed only through the prism of being something Rushkoff once said somewhere else at a conference; an interesting notion thrown out while the author is rushing off somewhere else — although I suppose it’s no huge criticism to say of a book that it leaves you wanting much more of everything it discusses. At any rate, the big takeaway is clear: your bunker won’t save you. Time to make nice with the butler.
Rushkoff inhabits a number of identities in the course of his book...His identities may have a way of proliferating, but his view in this book is unambiguously straightforward...Presumably his clients don’t read his books. (I was distracted at times by the thought that, despite the views expressed here, Rushkoff must be able to perform a remarkable degree of empathetic amiability in their presence) ... Douglas Rushkoff is at his best when he sticks with the satiric deconstruction of what he knows best.
What is surprising is how the book fails to live up to its fascinating subhead...Instead, we get the world according to Professor Douglas Rushkoff, primarily derived from two sources: his fertile brain as it engages with his laptop and brief encounters at the very economic elite/global tech conferences he repeatedly decries in the book. For a man concerned about the future of the world, he sure racks up the frequent flyer miles ... It's possible to find a book annoying even though you wholeheartedly agree with its premise ... Rushkoff is (maybe for not much longer) on the A-list as a speaker at events where the elites gather, but he squanders the opportunity such access has given him. The book is, instead, full of the kind of facts about the global elite you can get by Googling ... only barely prescriptive. It’s mostly about ridiculing the rich, and that’s something that Rushkoff—a fairly deft writer—does very well ... An inside scoop, as the book’s title implies, would be useful.
... scathing ... Though Rushkoff occasionally displays too evident a disdain for his subjects, he writes with knowledge and authority. The text conveys an appropriately urgent and serious message, while the closing section offers sound reason for hope and reasonable steps to take for a better future ... A dense but thorough and authoritative condemnation of tech worship.