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
New York Times Book Review
"[Turkle] summarizes her new view of things with typical eloquence...fascinating, readable."
Wall Street Journal
"What [Turkle] brings to the topic that is new is more than a decade of interviews with teens and college students in which she plumbs the psychological effect of our brave new devices on the generation that seems most comfortable with them."
"A fascinating portrait of our changing relationship with technology."
Natural History Magazine
"A fascinating, insightful and disquieting "intimate ethnography" of our digital, robotic moment in history."
"Turkle is a gifted and imaginative writer...[who] pushes interesting arguments with an engaging style."
Jill Conway, President emerita, Smith College, and author of
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.
Table of Contents
Authors Note: Turning Points
Introduction: Alone Together
The Robotic Moment: In Solitude, New Intimacies
1. Nearest Neighbors
2. Alive Enough
3. True Companions
6. Loves Labor Lost
Networked: In Intimacy, New Solitudes
8. Always On
9. Growing Up Tethered
10. No Need to Call
11. Reduction and Betrayal
12. True Confessions
14. The Nostalgia of the Young
Conclusion: Necessary Conversations
Epilogue: The Letter