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

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 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

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 20 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 (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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By Kieran on March 16, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Written by someone who has an instinct about how the future will turn out to be. I used this book to write my own futurist novel. Post Singularity London, this book helped me like several others did in the same way.
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Format: Hardcover
Turkle offers some good commentary on the relationship between humanity and computers, and how computing is, in essence, a new category of being that is redefining our humanity. I was disappointed by the heavy amount of ethnographic research early on. While interviews may support sociological claims, they make the writing feel dated. Also, I was reading this book for a more abstract and philosophical consideration of the topics. This philosophical discussion does come in the latter part of the book and is brief but insightful. The book also includes an interesting analysis of hackers as examples of humans with extreme relationships to computers.
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