Book: Team Human

Author: Douglas Rushkoff

Review by: Lee Foster, Executive Director, Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University

Lee Foster

Although I have been working in the performing arts industry for more than 20 years, my recent stint in the academic world at Georgia Tech demanded a return to my roots. I asked myself why works like Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth or Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth so resonate with my soul.

Reading Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff this year gave me even more perspective on the role of humans, and therefore the arts and humanities, in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines that we so often promote as essential to growth.

Rushkoff starts with an elegant manifesto: “We must realize that being human is a team sport.” He shows when we work together, we realize greater happiness, productivity and peace. He reminds the reader regularly, “You are not alone.”

In the form of 100 “koans” — a nod to Zen Buddhism — Rushkoff discusses the history of civilization and man’s response to its development up to now. He argues our priorities have become misaligned: “Engineers at our leading tech firms and universities tend to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution.”

He is not suggesting, however, that we become Luddites. On the contrary, he advocates joining forces with the rest of the human team to “take a stand and insist human values are folded into the development of each and every” technological advance.

I enjoyed reading about a potential future where humans are encouraged to have control over our lives with technology. Rushkoff’s discourse on media, economics and spirituality makes me realize how our values are silently threatened by the “vast anti-human infrastructure that undermines our ability to connect.”

I came away believing that we need to more clearly define who we are and what we want, then shape a future together of connectedness that reflects those values better. I highly recommend this thought-provoking treatise. 

Editor’s note: This review is part of Global Atlanta’s annual project asking influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued each year since 2010. Purchases through the affiliate links at top will provide a commission to Global Atlanta. All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.