Review (Guest): Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

5 Star, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Information Society, Information Technology

cover alone togetherShirley Turkle

5.0 out of 5 stars No robot could have written this February 16, 2011

Diana Senechal

That was one of my thoughts as I read Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: no matter what robots learn to do, they will never learn to write a book as thoughtful, informative, and intense as Alone Together. They would not know how to pose the questions, let alone use such discernment in addressing them.

It is interesting that Turkle chose to discuss robots in the first part of the book and the Internet in the second part. By presenting the “strange” part first, she gives us a sense of how strange our everyday lives actually are, how far we have moved away from enjoying each other’s presence.

Turkle quotes children and adults who hesitate to use the phone because it seems awkward and intrusive; it is much easier, they say, to dash off a text or email. At the same time, Turkle points out, because of this very convenience, people expect quick responses. She describes the anxiety of teenagers when they do not get an immediate reply to their text messages. One girl talks about needing her cell phone for “emergencies”; it turns out that what she means by “emergency” is having a feeling without being able to share it.

Turkle shows how our Internet communications mix the deliberate with the unconsidered. On the one hand, people put great effort even into short email messages. On the other, they “test” ideas and expressions in formation to see how others react. Some create fake online profiles just to try out different sides of their personality. The problem with such experimentation is that it is conditioned almost entirely by online reactions, often reactions of strangers. There is little room to form thoughts independently.

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Review (Guest): Alone Together — Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

4 Star, Civil Society, Communications, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design
Amazon Page

Sherry Turkle

4.0 out of 5 stars Whoa! Let’s not get carried away, February 6, 2011

By Martin Zook “Martin Zook” (Virginia) – See all my reviews

There is much insight to be gained about our relationship with digital technology in reading Alone Together…but it’s equally informative to consider some of what’s not covered in Turkle’s book. When viewed through a broader perspective, perhaps we needn’t be as alarmed as one might think after finishing AT.

Sherry Turkle’s research indicates a loop. People design digital machines that make demands on us, their users. But people program digital technology such as robots and games to appeal to vulnerabilities. Turkle is most concerned with demands digital makes on our vulnerabilities, to the extent that some people are so attracted to the digital world that they run the risk of not being able to differentiate between reality 101 and digital illusions.

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Review: The Second Self–Computers and the Human Spirit

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless Early Look at Hackers with “The Right Stuff”,

April 7, 2000
Sherry Turkle
This is “the” book that described the true origin of “hacking” as in “pushing the edge of the envelope” by writing a complex program in six lines of code instead of ten. This is a really superior piece of work about computer cultures and the people that belong to them. It is a wonderfully readable book with magnificent insights into the psychology of the young people at the bleeding edge of the computer frontier.

Update of 31 May 08 to add links:
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Information Payoff: The Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age
Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace (Helix Books)
The Unfinished Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do For Us
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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