The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit

The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit

Sherry Turkle

Language: English

Pages: 362

ISBN: 0671468480

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In The Second Self, Sherry Turkle looks at the computer not as a "tool," but as part of our social and psychological lives; she looks beyond how we use computer games and spreadsheets to explore how the computer affects our awareness of ourselves, of one another, and of our relationship with the world. "Technology," she writes, "catalyzes changes not only in what we do but in how we think." First published in 1984, The Second Self is still essential reading as a primer in the psychology of computation. This twentieth anniversary edition allows us to reconsider two decades of computer culture -- to (re)experience what was and is most novel in our new media culture and to view our own contemporary relationship with technology with fresh eyes. Turkle frames this classic work with a new introduction, a new epilogue, and extensive notes added to the original text.

Turkle talks to children, college students, engineers, AI scientists, hackers, and personal computer owners -- people confronting machines that seem to think and at the same time suggest a new way for us to think -- about human thought, emotion, memory, and understanding. Her interviews reveal that we experience computers as being on the border between inanimate and animate, as both an extension of the self and part of the external world. Their special place betwixt and between traditional categories is part of what makes them compelling and evocative. (In the introduction to this edition, Turkle quotes a PDA user as saying, "When my Palm crashed, it was like a death. I thought I had lost my mind.") Why we think of the workings of a machine in psychological terms -- how this happens, and what it means for all of us -- is the ever more timely subject of The Second Self.

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construct theories that will help them situate the computer in the world of living and not-living things and neutralize what seems threatening about it. How do children come to define the ideas of life, thinking, and feeling in a way that takes account of what computers can do? A New Disorder: “Are Smart Machines Alive?” In the discussion of the children on the beach, Robert said that he thought Merlin was alive. Long before computers appeared, children held unorthodox views about what things

You have to think about variables and use a variable for each bird—for example, letting A equal the 110 Chapter 3 color of the first bird, B the color of the second bird, and so on. Anne will use this kind of method when she has to, but she prefers another kind, a method of her own invention that has a different feel. She likes to feel that she is there among her birds, manipulating them much in the way she can manipulate physical materials. When you want to hide something on a canvas, you

the world of everyday life, from the world of emotion and relationships. Men seem able, willing, and invested in constructing these separate “objective” worlds, which they can visit as neutral observers. In this way the scientific tradition that takes objectivity as its hallmark is also defined as a male preserve. Taking it from the other side, we can see why men would be drawn to this construction of science. Men are highly invested in objective relationships with the world. Their earliest

She moves further in the direction I am calling “feminine,” further in the direction of seeing herself as in the world of the sprite, further in the direction of seeing the sprite as sensuous rather than abstract. When Anne puts herself into the sprite world, she imagines herself to be a part of the system, playing with the birds and the screens as though they were tactile materials. Science is usually defined in the terms of the hard masters: it is the place for the abstract, the domain for a

together with computers encourages a rich and continual philosophizing. The interest in sorting out the nature of the machine, and in using computer nature for thinking about human nature, continues with older children, but these questions are less pressing. At eight, nine, and ten years old, children are preoccupied not by metaphysics but by the need to master. These school-age children’s primary interest in computers is in what they can do with them. This stage is dominated by action, not

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