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by Sherry Turkle

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Author: Sherry Turkle
ISBN: 0465010210
Language: English
Pages: 384 pages
Category: Relationships
Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (January 11, 2011)
Rating: 4.3
Formats: mobi rtf azw doc
FB2 size: 1609 kb | EPUB size: 1838 kb | DJVU size: 1836 kb
Sub: Self-Help

In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle . I recently read Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together".

Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them.

Why do so many of us prefer simulated relationships to real ones? Is reliance on technology altering what it means to be. .The test is one of many cited by Sherry Turkle in Alone Together as evidence that humanity is nearing a "robotic moment".

Why do so many of us prefer simulated relationships to real ones? Is reliance on technology altering what it means to be human? Rafael Behr on a disquieting study of our imminent 'robotic moment'. Soon, robots will be employed in "caring" roles, entertaining children or nursing the elderly, filling gaps in the social fabric left where the threads of community have frayed.

Sherry Turkle takes up exactly these questions in Alone Together. The article, written shortly after the publication of her 1995 book Life on the Screen went on to analyse the new internet technology and the experiments in self-construction and she saw it making possible.

She’s also a psychologist, concerned with holistic human wellbeing. Alone Together relies on her ethnographic observations to understand the ways that new cally, companionable robots and the eless world-are affecting interpersonal relationships.

Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human . We expect more from technology and less from each other

Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication - and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have. Why does this matter? It matters to me because I think we're setting ourselves up for trouble - trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We're getting used to a new way of being alone together. We expect more from technology and less from each other. And I ask myself, "Why have things come to this?" And I believe it's because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable.

38-page comprehensive study guide . Features 14 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis. This 38-page guide for Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other by Sherry Turkle includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 14 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. The book is split into two halves: the first deals with human interactions with sociable robots and the second with the networked connections of social media and virtual worlds.

No need to call - Networked - In this book MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power . Likewise, at a screen, you feel protected and less burdened by expectations

No need to call - Networked - In this book MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. Likewise, at a screen, you feel protected and less burdened by expectations. And, although you are alone, the potential for almost instantaneous contact gives an encouraging feeling of already being together. Alone with your thoughts, yet in contact with an almost tangible fantasy of the other, you feel free to play.

That's what MIT professor Sherry Turkle observes in her new book, Alone Together, a fascinating portrait of our .

That's what MIT professor Sherry Turkle observes in her new book, Alone Together, a fascinating portrait of our changing relationship with technology. The result of nearly 15 years of study (and interviews with hundreds of subjects), Turkle details the ways technology has redefined our perceptions of intimacy and solitude-and warns of the perils of embracing such pseudo-techno relationships in place of lasting emotional connections

We’d rather text than talk. From the earliest days, videogame players were less interested in winning than in going to a new psychic place where things were always a bit different, but always the same.

We’d rather text than talk. This is what technology wants, it wants to be a symptom

Consider Facebook—it’s human contact, only easier to engage with and easier to avoid. Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them.

In Alone Together, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. It’s a nuanced exploration of what we are looking for—and sacrificing—in a world of electronic companions and social networking tools, and an argument that, despite the hand-waving of today’s self-described prophets of the future, it will be the next generation who will chart the path between isolation and connectivity.

Comments (7)
MisterMax
Sherry Turkle is an ethnographer of technology, which means that she observes people interacting with technology and interviews them about it in order to understand the meaning of that technology to users’ lives. She’s also a psychologist, concerned with holistic human wellbeing. Alone Together relies on her ethnographic observations to understand the ways that new technologies—specifically, companionable robots and the always-connected-wireless world—are affecting interpersonal relationships. Her writing, although not directly citing their work, continues in the tradition of Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman in asking questions like, “How do new technologies affect their users? What are the ideologies inherent to technologies? And how can users consciously choose which ideologies to adopt and promote and which to reject?”

Alone Together is divided into two parts. The first looks at companionable software and hardware and argues that we lose something relationally important and meaningful when we create machines to substitute for people in providing care and companionship, especially for children and the elderly. The section includes discussions on artificial intelligence and machine emotions. Turkle argues that machines cannot “feel” emotions like human beings but rather can only imitate their expression to arouse emotions in us. She asks what that performance of emotion really means in comparison to the human, embodied expression of emotion, especially empathy. Turkle suggest that we should be concerned when we come to prefer the company of technology to that of people and when we rely on technology to assuage our negative feelings of guilt, loneliness, etc., for example in leaving our elderly parents in nursing homes.

The book’s second section explores how the always connected world affects interpersonal relationships. I found this part of the book more meaningful than the first, as the discussion on robotics didn’t touch my life personally much. I suspect the same will be true for many readers. Turkle, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), lives in an environment on the technological cutting edge that is permeated by robotics to a greater extent than the environments in which many live.

The second section of Alone Together analyzes how texting has replaced in-person communication and phone calls in many contexts. Turkle points out that texting promotes brief factual exchanges but not deeper interaction, allowing texters to create barriers to communication and share selectively. Likewise, Turkle explores Facebook and social media in general as spheres for identity development that allow for some experimentation but that also cause intense anxiety for users as they worry about how others will see them online and how that vision will impact real-world interactions. Facebook becomes for many a place of performance, selective sharing, and tension, rather than of depth and meaningful interaction. The second section of the book also looks at online lives (Second Life, World of Warcraft, etc.) and how those lives provide places of escape from the real world. Turkle shares stories about gamers whose fast paced, exciting digital worlds have replaced aspects of their slower real worlds, including one man prefers his Second Life wife to his physically-present wife and kids. The discussion is disturbing and hit home for me, as I know people who spent years playing WoW.

Alone Together’s overall theme is that we need to consciously consider the effects of new technologies on our lives and then pick and choose what we want to adopt, rather than simply accepting technologies without thinking. Turkle isn’t a Luddite, and this isn’t a book against new technology. Turkle sees the value of new connective technologies and discusses her integration of those technologies into her relationship with her daughter. Rather than an attack on new technology, Turkle’s work provides the basis for personal reflection on what technologies provide, but also on what they take away if we’re not careful. I think that’s an important discussion, which is why I highly recommend Turkle’s work.

A couple caveats to conclude. One of the pitfalls of ethnography as a way of understanding the world is that it necessarily relies on small but deeply-studied groups of people. It’s debatable about how generalizable ethnographic findings are. For example, in the section on robotics, Turkle focuses heavily on her university, MIT, and its work with robots. Living as she does in a highly educated and technologically literate part of the country, some of her findings might not be applicable to those living in areas with limited access to robotics and generally lower education levels. Likewise, although Turkle shares stories from a wide variety of people, she spends quite a bit of time on primary, private high school, and college students, as well as the elderly. Those demographics and their experiences with technology might not be reflective of the wider US population. In the same line of thought, Turkle doesn’t spend much time on how culture might affect technology use. But that wasn’t really her goal, so it’s not a knock on what is an important contribution. It’s just an area for further study.
*Nameless*
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.

Throughout the book, Turkle brings up the question of solitude. What happens to our solitude when we are able to get responses to anything and are expected to provide responses in turn? What happens to our sense of dissent when everything we say and do online bears a trace? She points out how important privacy is to dissent, for if we have no place where we can think and act unseen, we end up policing ourselves and censoring our own thoughts. We tame and restrain ourselves, knowing that anything we do and say may end up "out there" forever. "But sometimes a citizenry should not simply 'be good,'" Turkle writes. "You have to leave space for dissent, real dissent."

Also, Turkle points out, when we have no privacy we lose the ability to privilege some thoughts and actions over others. She quotes Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, who says that "if you have something you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Like many others, he ignores the possibility that there might be privacy without shame or crime. We might want to keep things to ourselves for any number of reasons; when we "put everything out there," that "everything" is somehow trivialized. Turkle quotes a girl who claims there's nothing much to know about her; "I'm kind of boring." Will the loss of privacy lead more people to dismiss themselves as boring?

One of Turkle's most powerful points is that we have come "to take the performance of emotion as emotion enough." Who cares, some might say, if the robot cannot feel? It behaves as though it feels, and that's enough. But is it? I see similar assumptions in education, where test scores are equated with learning, and students' visible activity in class is equated with "engagement." How do you go about defending something that is not tangible, visible, or measurable? It is difficult, but Turkle does it.

Because this book is so informative, because Turkle understands the complexities of technologies, she can make bold statements. She insists that we have the capacity and obligation to question the principles behind new inventions. She suggests that the touch of a human hand is indeed different from a robot's, that a handwritten letter is different from a text, that thinking and remembering have value even when it seems there's no more time for them. I won't give away the ending, but it left me with a surprising sadness, as though in a movie theater, when it's over and the place is dark, and you sit there for a few minutes, stunned, before getting up and walking out into the blink-provoking street.
Sirara
I tend to read anything by Sherry Turkle - her thoughts often leave me with more questions than answers, an aspect of reading and learning that I adore! True confessions, I tend to see technological advances as 'progress.' Does it seem to you that we readily (eagerly?) adopt technology into our lives with little consideration for the personal, emotional, relational, and ethical impact? Turkle calls us to slow down, reflect, and consider the impacts of technology particularly our emotional, relational, communicative, and connective lives. What is gained? What is lost? What might be the impacts be? Are the naysayers chicken little, the sky is falling or are there truly some negative aspects of technology adoption that warrant further consideration? Topics explored include: intimacy, solitude, communion, companionship, anxiety, betrayal, connectedness, disconnectedness, multitasking, separation, identity, and personal development.

My favorite chapters: Ch9, Growing Up Tethered discussed young people, their personal development, and the impact of living "in a state of waiting for connection" (p. 171). I laughed out loud at Ch10's No Need to Call describing how annoying(laugh) a telephone call can be given its immediacy and immediate demand for our attention.

Read this book also: Baym, N. K. (2010). Personal connections in the digital age. Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity.