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Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Paperback – September 4, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 40 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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Sherry Turkle is rapidly becoming the sociologist of the Internet, and that's beginning to seem like a good thing. While her first outing, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, made groundless assertions and seemed to be carried along more by her affection for certain theories than by a careful look at our current situation, Life on the Screen is a balanced and nuanced look at some of the ways that cyberculture helps us comment upon real life (what the cybercrowd sometimes calls RL). Instead of giving in to any one theory on construction of identity, Turkle looks at the way various netizens have used the Internet, and especially MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions), to learn more about the possibilities available in apprehending the world. One of the most interesting sections deals with gender, a topic prone to rash and partisan pronouncements. Taking as her motto William James's maxim "Philosophy is the art of imagining alternatives," Turkle shows how playing with gender in cyberspace can shape a person's real-life understanding of gender. Especially telling are the examples of the man who finds it easier to be assertive when playing a woman, because he believes male assertiveness is now frowned upon while female assertiveness is considered hip, and the woman who has the opposite response, believing that it is easier to be aggressive when she plays a male, because as a woman she would be considered "bitchy." Without taking sides, Turkle points out how both have expanded their emotional range. Other topics, such as artificial life, receive an equally calm and sage response, and the first-person accounts from many Internet users provide compelling reading and good source material for readers to draw their own conclusions.

About the Author

Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Sociology of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a licensed clinical psychologist, holding a joint Ph.D. in Personality Psychology and Sociology from Harvard University. She is the author of
Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution and The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, and has pursued her work with support from the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ 0684833484
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Simon & Schuster (September 4, 1997)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780684833484
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0684833484
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.89 x 8.44 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.1 out of 5 stars 40 ratings

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SHERRY TURKLE, a social scientist and licensed clinical psychologist, has been studying people’s relationships with technology since the early personal computer movement in the late 1970s. She is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and the founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Turkle is the best-selling author of six books and three edited collections, including four landmark studies on our relationship with digital culture: The Second Self, Life on the Screen, Alone Together, and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Turkle has edited three books on our lives with objects, Evocative Objects, Falling For Science, and The Inner History of Devices. They explore how our relationships with the object world have significant implications for work, education, and intimacy. In Simulation and its Discontents, Turkle explores the costs, intellectual, personal, and political of living so much of our lives in artificial worlds.

Her most recent book, The Empathy Diaries (Penguin Press, March 2021) turns her method of “intimate ethnography,” on her own life, examining the intellectual and emotional forces that shaped her into the woman and researcher she became, making the point that her emotional and intellectual became one, that her career, as she put it, became “lit from within.” It appeared to critical acclaim. Dwight Garner in The New York Times called it a "beautiful book. . . an instant classic of the genre."

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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5
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