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The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (MIT Press) Paperback – Deluxe Edition, September 30, 2005
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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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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.
_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