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Simulation and Its Discontents (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life) 1st Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262012706
ISBN-10: 0262012707
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Editorial Reviews

Review

As computer simulation techniques have been transforming the practices of designers, engineers, and scientists, Sherry Turkle and her collaborators have been operating, at close quarters and over an extended period, as ethnographers among the simulators. This long-awaited volume presents their observations and reflections. It is an indispensable source of insights into the changing nature of learning, research, and expert practice in the digital era.

(William J. Mitchell, Program in Media Arts and Sciences, MIT and author of World's Greatest Architect)

It's remarkably easy to forget that there ever was a time when design engineers and architects manipulated 3-dimensional objects and scientists estimated model variables on blackboards. Turkle's latest book reminds us that, in science as in everyday life, technological change often slips past us and transforms our sense of what we're doing and why we're doing it without our remembering to notice. As she's done so often before, Turkle remembered on our behalf.

(Don Ross, School of Economics, University of Cape Town and Department of Finance, Economics and Quantitative Methods and Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at Birmingham)

About the Author

Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A psychoanalytically trained sociologist and psychologist, she is the author of The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, MIT Press), Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution. She is the editor of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, and The Inner History of Devices, all three published by the MIT Press.

William J. Clancey is Chief Scientist of Human-Centered Computing in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center, and Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (April 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262012707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262012706
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sherry Turkle studies the relationship between people and technology - how does technology change our ways of seeing ourselves and the world. There is all that technology does for us, but there is all that technology does to us as people. How does it affect how our children grow up? How we relate to each other?

Her 2011 Alone Together, argues that we are at a point of decision and opportunity. Technology now invites us to lose ourselves in always-in mobile connections and even in relationships with inanimate creatures that offer to "stand in" for the real. In the face of all this, technology offers us the occasion to reconsider our human values, and reaffirm what they are.

Alone Together is the third book in a trilogy on our evolving relationships to digital technology. The first two were The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Simon and Schuster, 1984; Touchstone paper, 1985; second revised edition, MIT Press, 2005) and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet (Simon and Schuster, November 1995; Touchstone paper, 1997).

One of Turkle's lifelong passions is our relationships with objects (not just computers). This has been the focus of a series of books on people's close connections to the "objects of their lives," all published by the MIT Press: Evocative Ojects: Things We Think With (2007), Falling For Science: Objects in Mind (2008), The Inner History of Devices (2008), and Simulation and Its Discontents (2009). Turkle is also the author of Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution (Basic Books, 1978; MIT Press paper, 1981; second revised edition, Guilford Press, 1992).

Turkle's most recent work, to be published by Penguin Press in October 2016 is Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. It argues that there is an assault on empathy that is affecting our personal and work lives and that conversation, the most human and humanizing thing we do, is the talking cure. It analyzes a contemporary flight from conversation and charts the way back to using face-to-face communication to find each other and find ourselves.

Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. She received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Jaksetic on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The book consists of Professor Sherry Turkle's long essay "Simulation and Its Discontents," and four shorter essays in a section titled "Sites of Simulation: Case Studies." Professor Turkle's essay is based on two ethnographic studies: one study looking at the introduction of intensive computing into Massachusetts Institute of Technology's educational practices in the mid-1980s; and another study (20 years later) that looked at computer simulation and visualization in science, engineering, and design. The four shorter essays are case studies about the use of computer simulation in the Mars Rover project, in deep-sea exploration, in architectural design, and in molecular biology research. Although the four shorter essays provide some interesting observations and insights into computer simulations, the heart of the book is Professor Turkle's long essay.

Professor Turkle's essay discusses how various professions (including scientists, engineers, architects, and medical researchers) have struggled with the problems that have arisen because of the nature and limitations of computer simulations. Professor Turkle identifies some of the positive and negative effects that computer simulations have had on the various professions, and discusses how members of those professions have reacted to the growing use of computer simulations. Professor Turkle's observations about some of the unintended consequences arising from the use of computer simulations are both informative and sobering. Professor Turkle's essay provides an interesting perspective on the benefits, limitations, and unexpected consequences (some good and some bad) of computer simulations.

The book is written in a style that does not assume the reader has formal training in computer simulations.
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I found the book interesting because it does discuss a transformation that has occurred in my lifetime and which we now tend to take for granted without questioning. That is, the methods of many different 'sciences' (and probably many other non-science areas as well) were once done with pen and paper and hands-on experiments and now are often done by computer simulations and other 'in-direct' modeling/experiences. So actually discussing this transformation and what it has meant and why people have been pro or against was interesting and worth thinking about.

On the downside, the book often seems cobbled together from only very loosely related parts. At one point (I was reading the Kindle version), I thought I had finished it, only to discover that I was only half way through (the index etc are in the middle). Individually there are many interesting narratives - physics, mars missions, nuclear weapons, biology, architecture that are interesting, but they are only very loosely tied together under the underarching theme of is simulation good, and given that we are more or less stuck with it, what should we think about?

So it's interesting and worth reading and pondering, but it is very disjointed. However when I picked up a magazine this morning and found an article about robot scientists who will pose hypothesis and then test them and come up with results I thought perhaps the book was even more relevant than I had first thought... (It was a serious article).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I do like Turkle books but this one is a half baked effort that I wished was better executed. Her field work in the 1980 and in the beginning of the 2000s do provide interest insights (the doing and doubting duality being the most interesting) but they are, as presented here, material for not more than a paper. The other essays in the book are skipable....
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By Alex Goodsell on February 13, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Texbook, also, great author
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