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The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit Paperback – Deluxe Edition, September 30, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A brilliant and challenging discussion presented with extraordinary clarity.

(Christopher Lehmann-Haupt The New York Times)

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Twentieth Anniversary Edition edition (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262701111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262701112
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,095 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Turkle's seminal text examines the social implications of our increasingly computer-suffused lives. With a strong emphasis on individual interactions with computers, this ethnography describes an emerging post-modern computer culture, and goes on to interpret it in philosophical terms. A bit utopian, very smart, acts as a bit of a pre-quel to her recent work, Life on the Screen
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Format: Hardcover
A classic in the field of human/computer interaction, it suffers a bit from its age (although I was delighted to read about the way children interacted with Merlin and Simon, given that I was a child who had interacted with both of the above). Children are so much more saturated with computers and computer technology than when the book was written, that I wonder how the observations will have changed.
_The Second Self_ is divided into three parts:
Part I: Growing Up with Computers: The Animation of the Machine
Part II: The New Computer Cultures: The Mechanization of the Mind
Part III: Into a New Age
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Format: Paperback
Has it already been twenty years since the first edition of this book came out?! When it did so, it was soon regarded as a classic. The intervening years have done nothing to diminish that assessment. Turkle has updated it to form this second edition.

By and large, her analysis in 1984 proved on the mark. As computers have improved in power, and become smaller and more portable, their users tend to identify with them. And here it should be said that the cellphones of today are considered, and are indeed, computers in the context of this text. Certainly, a typical cellphone has a raw computational capacity exceeding the personal computers of 1984.

To some readers, the most puzzling thing may be why some users so identify with their computers, or half-jokingly, attribute personalities to them. There seems to be some innate urge in many people for this.

Needless to say, suppose we project out another 20 years. The trend is for more such behaviour. The sophistication and personalisation possible in those future mobile machines makes this inevitable. And this is even NOT assuming any breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, which might endow the devices with true personalities.
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Format: Hardcover
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:
THE HACKER CRACKDOWN: LAW AND DISORDER ON THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER
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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Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of Turkle, so I just loved it. It's just one of the first deep books written about human-computer interaction.
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