Consider Facebook — it’s human contact, only easier to engage with and easier to avoid. Developing technology promises closeness. Sometimes it delivers, but much of our modern life leaves us less connected with people and more connected to simulations of them.
In “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other“, MIT technology and society professor Sherry Turkle explores the power of our new tools and toys to dramatically alter our social lives. It’s a nuanced exploration of what we are looking for—and sacrificing—in a world of electronic companions and social networking tools, and an argument that, despite the hand-waving of today’s self-described prophets of the future, it will be the next generation who will chart the path between isolation and connectivity.
Sherry Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé 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.
Update 20110707: A similar talk for the RSA:
If you’d like more, MIT World has a two hour video of a conversation with Turkle in which she describes her evolving appraisal of the impact of digital technology:
RSA: Fusing sociology, psychoanalysis and philosophy, Professor Renata Salecl explores the paralysing anxiety and dissatisfaction surrounding limitless choice, and shows that individual choice is rarely based on a simple rational decision with a predictable outcome. Does the freedom to be the architects of our own lives actually hinder rather than help us? Does our preoccupation with choosing and consuming actually obstruct social change?