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Alone Together [Paperback]

Sherry Turkle
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Feb 2013
Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But, as MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle argues, this relentless connection leads to a new solitude. As technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down. Alone Together is the result of Turkle's nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on hundreds of interviews, it describes new unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy, and solitude.

Frequently Bought Together

Alone Together + The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember + You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto
Price For All Three: £25.07

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (7 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465031463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465031467
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Nobody has ever articulated so passionately and intelligently what we're doing to ourselves by substituting technologically mediated social interaction.... Equipped with penetrating intelligence and a sense of humor, Turkle surveys the front lines of the social-digital transformation." --Lev Grossman, TIME

About the Author

Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. She is frequently interviewed in "Time," "Newsweek," the "New York Times," and the "Wall Street Journal," on NBC News, and more. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Critique 20 Mar 2011
By dr_sign
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
'Alone Together' is the third volume in a trilogy produced over three decades by Sherry Turkle, a psychoanalyst based at MIT, the preceding volumes being 'The Second Self' (1984) and 'Life on the Screen' (1995). I read each one soon after publication and found them engrossing, thought-provoking and well-illustrated with illuminating case-studies and insightful observations. The current volume is in two parts: the first develops themes from 'The Second Self' (here related to `sociable robots'), the second from 'Life on the Screen' (which focused on the construction of identities online). Because of the limitations of space, my comments here focus on Part Two. Whereas the earlier volumes were relatively upbeat about the implications of new technologies, the tone of the current volume feels markedly more jaundiced, alerting us to some potential social costs of `social media'.

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.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Turkle's excellent book attempts to balance the flow of enthusiasm for digital technology and techno-boosterism of sci-fi style futures by examining how humans as social actors engage with technology. It is a forlorn hope that some symmetry could be achieved with the raging determinism of the technology corporates with their blythe dismissal of most of Turkle's objections, but this joins a growing list of critical works about the ethics and implications of technology as determined by technologists. It certainly seems clear from this book that creative, empathetic, intelligent and enquiring minds are developing the very technologies that will reduce these qualities in the rest of us.

In effect, this is two books. The first half deals with the kind of interactive robotics that can be introduced precisely because of our neglect of one another: comfort robots for the elderly and interactive ones for kids. The stories that emerge from Turkle's observations of interactions between people and machines in this context are unquestionably disturbing. The common justification is that, given most people working in old age or child care don't bring their human qualities to bear in their work, so what if a robot replaces them? So, here we have the best minds of the age working in well funded labs to design robots that will release us from our obligations towards one another. Robots, Turkle warns, will turn out even better than humans as they won't ever let us down, and the idea clearly alarms her.

The second section is about how the always-on network has altered our perception of social engagement with one another.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking and insightful 25 Jan 2013
By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Turkle describes herself as a psychoanalytically trained psychologist who works as an anthropologist at MIT. She offers fascinating early insights in the ways technology is changing society. Her book is well-written and jargon-free: her thoughtful views of what she learned in over a decade of combining research and personal interviews describe a new world that's simply alien to babyboomers like me who are proud of the way we've mastered the computer, email, IM, iphone, ipad, kindle, websearching, shopping online - many of us have even created our own websites.

The first half of the book is about robot pets, an insight into toys that can learn and seem alive, and how humans - especially children and the elderly - treat them and are affected by them. The second half of the book is about social media. I was shocked (but somehow not surprised) at what she has learned about our new ways of relating:

- the astounding way children and the elderly react to these latest robot pets, who seem real, make demands (suffer when not looked after well) and appear to learn - how they speak to, and treat, these robots - invariably as if they are living creatures - as well as how these robots are meeting many needs for "human" contact;
- the intent is to create ever-more-sophisticated robots who will be used for babysitting and to caretake the infirm - Turkle even discusses marriage between human-like robots and humans as a real possibility, although she expresses her concerns about the inevitable loss of intimacy and authenticity;
- so many ignored children, whose parents text all the way through family dinners and even when collecting them from school (to the extent that they even fail to say hello as the child gets into the car!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What we all know as parents
What we all really know but are a little afraid to admit.
Whilst Sherry Turckle - may not have all the answers, this book, no doubt, will ultimately be seen as an important... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Tony Lord
5.0 out of 5 stars Scrupulously researched and wholly convincing
A refreshing antidote to the slack-jawed utopianism of so much that is written about the Web and its impact on our lives. Read more
Published 16 months ago by mojohand
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't live up to it's potential... Academically quite unconvincing.
I really wanted to like this book. Honestly I did, it deals with a fascinating topic. Sadly however, I found this far too anecdotal, repetitive and bias. Read more
Published 16 months ago by ChrisE
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and informative
If you love the way technology has influenced society you will love this book. I could read it again and again/
Published 18 months ago by Harri
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly interesting !!
I decided to buy this book after watching Sherry Turkle for TED talks! This is the first book i have read by her and I find it absolutely interesting and quite life changing! Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2012 by GioJame
3.0 out of 5 stars Alone Together
This book was recommended by a colleague of my husband's at work, and he wanted it for our wedding anniversary. Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Mrs. Alison G. Gauld
1.0 out of 5 stars negative
I am disgusted about the enthusiasm of the writer for the influence of robotics and electronica on young and not so young people.
Published on 14 Nov 2011 by willem
5.0 out of 5 stars Pensamiento crítico sobre impacto tecnologías sociales
Las nuevas tecnologías 2.0 (blogosfera, Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, buscadores sociales, etc. Read more
Published on 4 Mar 2011 by Dosdoce
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherry Turkle vintage
Sherry Turkle is one of the most interesting minds in the world of interfaces, our world, that is: technology and society, human mind and computers, psychology and the computer... Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2011 by Leandro Herrero
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