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Life on the Screen Paperback – Sep 4 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (Sept. 4 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684833484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684833484
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Sherry Turkle is rapidly becoming the sociologist of the Internet, and that's beginning to seem like a good thing. While her first outing, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, made groundless assertions and seemed to be carried along more by her affection for certain theories than by a careful look at our current situation, Life on the Screen is a balanced and nuanced look at some of the ways that cyberculture helps us comment upon real life (what the cybercrowd sometimes calls RL). Instead of giving in to any one theory on construction of identity, Turkle looks at the way various netizens have used the Internet, and especially MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions), to learn more about the possibilities available in apprehending the world. One of the most interesting sections deals with gender, a topic prone to rash and partisan pronouncements. Taking as her motto William James's maxim "Philosophy is the art of imagining alternatives," Turkle shows how playing with gender in cyberspace can shape a person's real-life understanding of gender. Especially telling are the examples of the man who finds it easier to be assertive when playing a woman, because he believes male assertiveness is now frowned upon while female assertiveness is considered hip, and the woman who has the opposite response, believing that it is easier to be aggressive when she plays a male, because as a woman she would be considered "bitchy." Without taking sides, Turkle points out how both have expanded their emotional range. Other topics, such as artificial life, receive an equally calm and sage response, and the first-person accounts from many Internet users provide compelling reading and good source material for readers to draw their own conclusions.

From Publishers Weekly

The Internet, with its computer bulletin boards, virtual communities, games and private domains where people strike up relationships or emulate sex, is a microcosm of an emerging "culture of simulation" that substitutes representations of reality for the real world, asserts Turkle (The Second Self). In an unsettling, cutting-edge exploration of the ways computers are revising the boundaries between people and computers, brains and machines, she argues that the newest computers?tools for interaction, navigation and simulation, allowing users to cycle through roles and identities?are an extension of self with striking parallels to postmodernist thought. She also looks at "computer psychotherapy" programs such as Depression 2.0, a set of tutorials designed to increase awareness of self-defeating attitudes; hypertext software for creating links between related songs, texts, photographs or videos; and "artificial life," attempts to build intelligent, self-organizing, complex, self-replicating systems and virtual organisms.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Paperback
Turkle does a magnificant job in illustrating the human persona while online. As our culture becomes more and more internet dependent, and it becomes easier to be a "globalized" person, psychological changes are sure to take effect. "Life On the Screen" is illustrated with some wry humor, as well as vivid examples.
Sometimes doing someonething online makes it seem less "real." For instance, carding something-aka using a fake credit card number-is less 'real' if you do it online, to order something, than it is to waltz into say, BestBuy and using a fake credit card there. Just because you do it in a non-physical area (what is Cyberspace made up of, anyway?) does not mean that it is still not a crime, and that it is still not capable of having reprecussions.
Shirley Turkle captures precisely what someone, as a user and interacter with the internet, thinks, and does while online. She acknowledges the existance of the internet being a place where people are able to forge "cyber-identities"...or get more comfortable being who they are. She also outlines something that is perhaps one of the most secure things about the internet in this day and age-that on the internet, you are anonymous. Therefore, you can do what you wish (good or bad) and you can interact with others via MUDs or the like...or you can decide exactly how people will think of you as.
The internet is a secure medium for an insecure person. It is where many people who feel unaccepted in life go as refuge, to seek friends and partners who are like them, and who understand. This is also recognized in this book.
I highly recommend anyone, either the hacker, or the suit, or the working mother, or the teenager, to pick up this book and just to start reading.
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Format: Paperback
Sherry Turkle is a sociologist and a clinical psychologist. Her pioneering work has been done in the realm of computer mediated human interaction. One of her most commented on books is Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. This book is a serious look at the concept of identity and how identity is shaped on the Internet and through computer mediation.
Her major topic is how humans contain self on the Internet. She also spends a great deal of time discussing relationships on the Internet. With splintered selves involved, relationships become more complex. Her research on the way women and men view online sexuality is fascinating. Anyone interested in how the young people of the very near future will discover their sexual selves would do well to read this book. While Turkle is fairly straightforward in her findings, they may terrify some readers. This is a completely new sexuality, a completely foreign way of doing things. Her view is, of course, fairly clinical, but, in the end, I think she shows an amazing affinity with the people she has worked with. Turkle is not worried about the splintering of self. On the contrary, she thinks that some of these tactics: being able to play with and discover parts of yourself that you normally don't interact with is vital to development and mental health.
Another area that Turkle tackles is Artificial Intelligence. She considers AI to be the next frontier. These AI will be interacted with as a matter of course in the coming years, according to the author. Again, this area enthralls some readers and frightens others. Turkle is excited about what AI can do in terms of promoting dialog.
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By George Lenno on March 29 2000
Format: Paperback
Sherry Turkle has written an engaging and thought-provoking book about how computers and the Internet have altered our lives. Moving beyond the concept that computers are just a tool, Turkle explains to the reader how technology allows us to explore and even alter our sense of "self." The ability to interact with other netizens in a variety of virtual settings, while adopting new personalities, has given many the freedom to explore aspects of their self-identity that without the anonymity of the electronic world would be impossible. Simulation is another area that Turkle offers interesting insights into how people perceive the world around them as a result of being able to model various possibilities via a computer simulation. These simulations and other children's toys are creating a generation who are asking the question "Is it alive?" of objects that most view as nothing more than tools or toys. Overall, I found Life on the Screen to be well written and extremely thought provoking. While you may disagree with her conclusions about technology and its affect on our concept of self, one of the key aspects of this book is that it makes you think about how your life has been altered not only physically by computers but also emotionally and psychologically. A very good read.
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Format: Paperback
The author presents in her book many thoughtful and provocating ways computers are being used. Starting out with computer games as places for teenagers to hide out to scientists trying to create artificial life to children "morphing" through a series of virtual personae. On the Internet, confrontations with technology collides with ones sense of human identity. Ms.Turkle takes the reader into the text-based games where over ten thousand players can create a character or several characters specifying genders or any other physical and psychological attributes. This book presents stories of how artificial intelligence (AI) is being re-visited. Models are being designed to attempt to simulate brain processes. Furthermore, she presents her idea that AI is borrowed freely from the languages of biology and parenting, with examples such as the high school English teacher and basketball coach who tried using small connected programs to help him figure out what team to field. But readers may also find interesting is her discussion on the multi-users-domains (MUDs). The information the author has gathered from her research is very informative and yet somewhat disturbing. She presents insight on how and why individuals seek to take on new or different personas on line. Her findings point out the problems people face in life and then escape to the Internet as a release. One of the passages from her book readers might find to be very provocative. She says "Women and men tell me that the rooms and mazes on MUDs are safer than city streets, virtual sex is safer than sex anywhere, MUD friendships are more intense than real ones, and when things don't work out you can always leave!Read more ›
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