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Posted April 4, 2012

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Ted Talks

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?


As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication -- and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it.

Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it.

Since her pathbreaking The Second Self: Computers and The Human Spirit in 1984 psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle has been studying how technology changes not only what we do but who we are. In 1995's Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Turkle explored how the Internet provided new possibilities for exploring identity.

Described as "the Margaret Mead of digital cuture," Turkle has now turned her attention to the world of social media and sociable robots. As she puts it, these are technologies that propose themselves "as the architect of our intimacies." In her most recent book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Turkle argues that the social media we encounter on a daily basis are confronting us with a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Turkle suggests that just because we grew up with the Internet, we tend to see it as all grown up, but it is not: Digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it.

Turkle is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

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