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Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Otherby Sherry Turkle
Synopses & Reviews
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. Its 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.
"As the digital age sparks increasing debate about what new technologies and increased connectivity are doing to our brains, comes this chilling examination of what our iPods and iPads are doing to our relationships, from MIT professor Turkle (Simulation and Its Discontents). In this third in a trilogy that explores the relationship between humans and technology, Turkle argues that people are increasingly functioning without face-to-face contact. For all the talk of convenience and connection derived from texting, e-mailing, and social networking, Turkle reaffirms that what humans still instinctively need is each other, and she encounters dissatisfaction and alienation among users: teenagers whose identities are shaped not by self-exploration but by how they are perceived by the online collective, mothers who feel texting makes communicating with their children more frequent yet less substantive, Facebook users who feel shallow status updates devalue the true intimacies of friendships. Turkle's prescient book makes a strong case that what was meant to be a way to facilitate communications has pushed people closer to their machines and further away from each other. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"The author seems confident that human instinct will eventually intervene and prompt us into evasive action as soon as technology begins to increasingly dominate our lives....Despite the dry, clinical writing, Turkle provides potentially valuable social research." Kirkus Reviews
"Turkle emphasizes personal stories from computer gadgetry's front lines, which keeps her prose engaging and her message to the human species — to restrain ourselves from becoming technology's willing slaves instead of its guiding masters — loud and clear." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
In this final volume in a trilogy of works on computers and people that includes The Second Self and Life on the Screen, Turkle (social studies of science, M.I.T.), presents an important exploration of the psychological effects of computers on decision making and relationship building in a culture increasingly filled with technology dependence and social networking. Based on fifteen years of research and numerous interviews with adults and children, the work explores the development of new types of relationships among families and peer groups that are moderated by technology, the quality and psychological health of these relationships and a growing reaction to, and rejection of, this new cultural norm. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A wake-up call from a cyber-expert: our use of technology is fueling disturbing levels of isolation, leaving us incapable of distinguishing between true human connection and digital communication
Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But, as MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle argues, this relentless connection leads to a new solitude. As technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down. Alone Together is the result of Turkle's nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on hundreds of interviews, it describes new unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy, and solitude.
About the Author
Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
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