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, 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.
©2011 Sherry Turkle (P)2011 Tantor
"Turkle's prescient book makes a strong case that what was meant to be a way to facilitate communications has pushed people closer to their machines and further away from each other." (Publishers Weekly)
I would recommend this book to anyone who plans on living with computers and their progeny. (That's just about anyone breathing) ESPECIALLY parents of young children and those planning new families. One of the most interesting parts of the book is the effects of technology and high tech toys on children. Another fascinating subject is the effects of Facebook, other social networking sites, and mobile computing devises on teens. This was one of the most informative and interesting books I've read so far this year, (I read 3 or 4 books a week) A very good narrator who kept the story going. Crisp and insightful! Well done, 5 stars!
Photons power my writing
The narrator not sounding like Siri or any other virtual assistant. I want to listen to a book that doesn't sound depressing — after all, this one isn't SUPPOSED to be.
She sounds like a machine reading a script she's tired of. I cannot stress this enough: do not buy the audiobook. If you have a soul, it will take the meaning of the book and turn it into something completely disheartening. The book is meant to tell us about something we need to fix, not make us feel terrible about the problem. Merlington's voice does not embody the former, but instead incorporates the latter in a most annoying manner. I couldn't listen to more than half an hour without going crazy and deleting it.
The book is fine; the audiobook is rubbish. I would like to hear someone else read it, but there are no other choices at the moment.
Don't buy it unless you want to listen to a robot read you something. It's neither pleasant nor fulfilling.
Sherry Turkle cites in great detail several case studies she's done with people interacting with robots, toys, and social media and then gives her own commentary. For example, while the tech industry is asking "How can we take care of our elderly with robots?", Turkle stubbornly pushes the questions "Should we be doing this? What qualities do human interaction give that can't be replaced by a robot? Are we teaching the robots how to care for the elderly? Or are we teaching people to prefer the care of robots? What is the trade off when you replace a human care-giver with a robot?"
I don't agree with everything Turkle argues, but I still found it insightful. She has gotten a lot of praise AND criticism for this book, and has proven there is a price for raising the question of morality and ethics in tech design. While I understand the objections, I think her findings are important, and should be standard reading for anyone work in the tech field.
After all, shouldn't ALL tech designers approach their work with a conscience?
The "bad" of the book is this: She goes into FAR TOO MUCH explanation to be considered a casual read, and FAR TOO MUCH commentary to be considered an academic work. She really could have made the same point in 4 hours – not 14. This is the first time I'd ever recommend an abridged version (if one exists).
This book breaks into two halves. The first half looks at the concept of sociable robots taking over roles of caring and concern normally played by people. In this part, she oversimplifies the argument by focusing on children and the elderly -- the two groups who are most vulnerable to sociable robots and often lacking the ability to make judgments about how we might interact with the robots. Because these groups say it is o.k. and that they love their robots, Turtle concludes that we are in trouble, and doomed to lose something of our humanity to the machine.
The second half looks at our networked lives of texting, email, gaming, Facebook, and other instant messaging. This half also tends to focus on youth, but overall it's a stronger assessment. One of the significant points she raises is that we use these technologies to create the illusion of control, while our lives spin further out of control, and out of attention. I think that's the big theme: we lose attention on people, we move further apart as our interactions with each other are technologically mediated. I found in the second half, several moments of good caution. I feel like I want to untether from my phone a little more ... except that's where I listen to audiobooks. There's also something in the value of mental space, that she touches on, but does not develop.
Turkle's writing is informed not just by AI, not just by psychoanalysis, but also by the relationship of a mother to her daughter in a changing world. Although the narration is flat or even cloying, it is transcended by the power of the narrative itself. Thanks to the author for this gripping listen / read.
I am a fan of the topic, but I have a hard time listening to this book given the reader's voice, tone, and prosody. Since she is reading a book that is in first person, I'm connecting the author with the reader... and drawing a bad impression of the author (unfortunately). I'm fighting it, but it is so automatic.
Total waste of money. The narrator was like a robot. I could only get through the first disc and had to quit. The premise of good but the writing and performance was terrible.
I had to stop in the middle of it.
Not at all
Probably all of it
I couldn't begin t finish this audiobook. After a few hours describing how kids played with their Furbee or other electronic toy, I couldn't find any reason to continue. What a waste.
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