Fast Company: “Alone Together”: An MIT Professor’s New Book Urges Us to Unplug

January 13, 2011
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http://www.fastcompany.com/1716844/alone-together-an-mit-professors-new-book-urges-us-to-unplug?#
In her new book, an MIT professor shares her ambivalence about the overuses of technology, which, she writes, “proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies.”
By David Zax – January 13, 2011, Fast Company

Sherry Turkle, has been an ethnographer of our technological world for three decades, hosted all the while at one of its epicenters: MIT. A professor of the social studies of science and technology there, she also heads up its Initiative on Technology and Self. Her new book, Alone Together, completes a trilogy of investigations into the ways humans interact with technology. It can be, at times, a grim read. Fast Company spoke recently with Turkle about connecting, solitude, and how that compulsion to always have your BlackBerry on might actually be hurting your company’s bottom line.

I didn’t realize MIT hired Luddites.

Well, I’m no Luddite. I think this book is not the book of a Luddite. This is the book of someone deeply appreciative of technology, who took her time to see how our use of this technology unfolded, and who thinks like with any technology, it’s had some effects, good and bad. Every technology becomes our partner, because we make it, and then it makes and shapes us in return, and it takes a little time for us to see how that process of mutual unfolding goes. Every technology gives us the opportunity to say, Is this technology serving our human values? And if not, the opportunity to make corrections. This book is meant to be part a conversation to make corrections. I think there are ways in which we’re constantly communicating and yet not making enough good connections, in a way that’s to our detriment, to the detriment of our families and to our business organizations.

The title of your book, Alone Together, is chilling.

If you get into these email, Facebook thumbs-up/thumbs-down settings, a paradoxical thing happens: even though you’re alone, you get into this situation where you’re continually looking for your next message, and to have a sense of approval and validation. You’re alone but looking for approval as though you were together–the little red light going off on the BlackBerry to see if you have somebody’s validation. I make a statement in the book, that if you don’t learn how to be alone, you’ll always be lonely, that loneliness is failed solitude. We’re raising a generation that has grown up with constant connection, and only knows how to be lonely when not connected. This capacity for generative solitude is very important for the creative process, but if you grow up thinking it’s your right and due to be tweeted and retweeted, to have thumbs up on Facebook…we’re losing a capacity for autonomy both intellectual and emotional.

Full Story: http://www.fastcompany.com/1716844/alone-together-an-mit-professors-new-book-urges-us-to-unplug?#

 

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