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Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other Paperback – October 2, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Unlike many books about technology, this book does not try to tell a simple story about it being good or bad. Its goal seems to be to help us live a better life in partnership with technology. Do we really want to give up privacy online? Do we really want to text during family dinners? Do we really want our companionship to be replaced by robotic companionship?
Instead of pretending you must take a side for or against technology, "Alone Together" asks us to look out for ourselves and what is good for us. My favorite idea is that the point is not to get rid of technology but that each individual must stop and think where it fits in his or her life.
"Alone Together" is a great read. The language is sometimes poetic and sometimes funny, but always compelling. Its ideas and questions are powerful and are long-lasting.
Highly recommended for everyone.
Provocatively, the main refrain is that in an online culture we are always connected (Turkle says `tethered'), but are rarely (meaningfully) connecting. Although (somewhat ironically) one may hear the same sentiment in a current commercial for a well-known matchmaking website, Turkle's nuanced stance `is not romantically nostalgic, not Luddite in the least'; indeed, she remains `cautiously optimistic'. This is a seriously reflective work well-informed by extensive ethnographic studies. The focus on authenticity and intimacy recalls the concerns voiced by Socrates in Plato's 'Phaedrus' about an earlier technological development--publishing one's ideas in written form--in particular the fear that communication at a distance would undermine genuine (face-to-face) human discourse. This has been a recurrent anxiety throughout the history of communication technologies.Read more ›
The first half of the book analyzes how robotics are beginning to affect our lives, especially the lives of those who are currently seen as burdens to society, such as the elderly, children, and mentally handicapped. This section did not interest me as much, and I felt the topic could have been better addressed in it's own volume. Addressing robotic encounters in the same volume as connected encounters seems to me obtrusive and unnecessary. My recommendation to purchasers is to skip the first half of the book unless you're specifically interested in that topic.
The second of the book addresses constant connectedness, and paints several pictures of how it has affected our lives. Unfortunately, one gets the feeling that once you've seen 10-15 such stories, you've seen them all. Nevertheless, she persists through several more anecdotes. In fact, this book's. overall structure is an anecdote or two, followed by a somewhat noncommittal discussion of what the anecdote might mean. The overall volume could have been better addressed had it been organized better. She does, however, paint a general picture through the anecdotes that discusses how various people relate to the Internet and social networking.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Adam Kotanko
Good read, makes one think about how technology is effecting humanity.Published 19 days ago by Nuahs
Some interesting stories and comments but overall needed more humor or pictures or something to make it less school bookish.Published 1 month ago by Canary
Not what I was looking for. Author spends a lot of time discussing ROBOTS replacing people in relationships---While that is definitely possible in the future, it was a little... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sharon G Perkins
This is a deeply studied and sprawling presentation of Turkle's research, covering two distinct areas of human-computer interaction—the arrival of androids and robotic aids in the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ryan Mease
This book is a load of drivel. Turkle holds up each singular data point as indicative of an all-encompassing truth about social behavior. Read morePublished 2 months ago by dmgeo
This book will make you take a hard look at the connected life most of us live. Has our technology helped us be more effective at tasks and less so at relationships? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Eddie gilley