“Cue the Sun!”

… so ordained Christof, creator of The Truman Show.

Every second of Truman Burbank’s life is tracked by thousands of cameras and watched live by billions of people.

He’s oblivious to his wife holding up products as if in a commercial. He blindly accepts that the people in his life do the same things over and over again.

“We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.” ~ Christof

Truman has no idea that he’s the ‘star’ of a global reality show where every choice he faces is dictated by Christof, the show’s executive producer.

The tragedy is that he truly believed he was in control of his own life.

Our real-life Truman Show

We now all live in a world where our everyday choices are framed by technology and those that understand it, and control it.

Every click we make is tracked, recorded and analysed. Every time we open an email. What we read, watch, or listen to on (& increasingly off) the internet.

We’re then fed back with more and more finely tuned subliminal messages and choices to get us to do what somebody else wants us to do.

And that’s just the start…

Self-driving cars, drones delivering Amazon packages to our door, fridges and all kinds of everyday objects are connecting to each other and to us. Meanwhile, the robots are just around the corner…

We marvel at and try to decipher the meaning of the latest 6 second cat video tool.

We grasp (and gasp) at ‘magical’ new toys and tools as they are handed down to us from Mountain View – like mystical silicon tablets.

We have no idea how they are made, or how they work. Just like it is for my four year old: it may as well be magic.

Just like Truman, we firmly believe we are in control. Of course we are. Aren’t we? We are making our own choices. Aren’t we

The trap

The trap is to think that technology is like a car. Surely geeks are like car mechanics, while we masterfully punch our destination into the Sat Nav and take control of the wheel.

The thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. To paraphrase Douglas Ruskoff of Program or Be Programmed:

…those who truly understand technology are in the driving seat, while those who don’t are merely passengers.

Google’s driverless car meanwhile is the logical conclusion of that. Just how much in control are you going to feel when you are inside one?

The irony

The irony is that we’re living under the illusion of having more control than ever, and yet we’re the ones being ever more controlled.

We’re blissfully unaware that the laugh is on us. We are merely unwitting extras in a gargantuan real-life Truman Show. (At least Jim Carey got to play at being the ‘star’.)

The real world Christof’s

So who is pulling the strings, setting the agenda?

Marketers? No. Like us, most are pawns, spellbound by trinkets tossed to them by Sergey and Zuck.

Corporate executives? Nope. Most can barely do email, and so are just as much passengers as the rest of us.

The real world Christof’s are of course the ones who a) understand how technology works, and b) understand how to wield it.

They are people like Mark Zuckerburg, Jack Dorsey, Marissa Mayer, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Taking control

As the world gets eaten by software we need to, at least understand the choices being presented to us, so we can make better decisions. So we can avoid being duped. And, ultimately … becoming irrelevant.

The good news is that we have the best chance in human history to discover and act on ever more opportunities.

But how?

Be constructively skeptical and always asking questions. When you see a floodlight fall from the sky: ask the question, make the connection.

Be creative. Otherwise you will be replaced by software and robots that do what you do, only cheaper and better.

Be unpredictable. Truman managed to escape by doing the unexpected. Watch the film to see how.

Above all, we (and our kids) need to be learning everything we can about technology. Note: knowing how to use Facebook or Word does not count.

Learn how technology works: the underlying principles. Stop being programmed … learn to code … and take control of your own life.

The computer programmer is a creator of universes of which he alone is responsible. Universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs.” ~ Joseph Weizenbaum

The gap between those that do and the rest is growing by the day. Your choice: an abundance of opportunity, or … irrelevance.

There really is no time to waste. Here and here are good places to start, and for kids, try here and here.

“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.” ~ Truman’s final words before his escape.

Image: Truman Show II by Elzix