Book review: ‘Alone Together’
Wed, Mar 2, 2011 (6:45 p.m.)
MIT professor Sherry Turkle sounds like a crotchety old man. Oh, she writes with an academic tone, and she’s clearly done her research, but her main thesis comes straight from your grandpa: Robots are scary; text messaging and Facebook are bad. Sure, that’s a simplification of Turkle’s argument, but it’s a fitting one; Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other is filled with simplifications and misunderstandings.
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other
- By Sherry Turkle
In discussing text messaging, Turkle writes, “We don’t ask the open-ended ‘How are you?’ Instead, we ask the more limited ‘Where are you?’ and ‘What’s up?’ These are good questions for getting someone’s location and making a simple plan. They are not so good for opening a dialogue about the complexity of feeling.” Text messaging isn’t supposed to open a dialogue, and “What’s up?” is young-person-talk for “How are you?”
Alone Together has a lot of fascinating research subjects (like Andy, a senior who treats his Real Baby Doll like his ex-wife Edith). And I do agree with some of Turkle’s conclusions (e.g., that devices can keep us distracted and isolated)...but the way she gets there ain’t pretty.