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Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  3,341 ratings  ·  514 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 16pt, 762 pages
Published January 15th 2011 by ReadHowYouWant (first published 2011)
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Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
This book has become the laughing stock of Hampshire College. (Which, if you don't know, is the college I've recently started to attend.) The author's last name, Turkle, is now being used as a verb all over campus. For example:

Two people are talking face-to-face. One person, while in conversation with the other person, takes out a phone (or other such electronic device) and starts texting. This person is Turkling.

There's also the Awkward Turkle––which is when you do the Awkward Turtle but up ne
I am genuinely confused when I see reviews on Goodreads about this book that claim that this book is "poorly researched" and that the premise of this book is that "Turkle hates technology." I have not ever read a more thoughtful, well-researched, well-reasoned account of the way we use technology today. If Turkle is missing statistics and bar graphs, that is because she is a psychologist by trade, not a statistician. She studies people--our thoughts and feelings. She is more anthropologist than ...more
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by MIT professor Sherry Turkle is one of the most enlightening books about the ethical and social repercussions of technology I have ever read. Interestingly, I read it on my Kindle, where I recently learned how to use the highlighting and notes function. So my review isn't so much a review as a reflection on some of the most meaningful quotations from the work.

The first half of the work is devoted to Turkle's discussion
Roger Haskins
Wow. Yeah. Can humans find companionship with robots? Should they? 2 years ago I would've thought the author was stretching for scify stories. After working at Verizon and seeing the disproportionate emotional responses people give when their device doesn't work as expected i totally agree with her. Consider the difference between having friends and being "friended" and for too many it is the difference between getting what you want and getting what we think we want. The book does a great job lo ...more
Conversation with Eliza Bot. Wed Feb 15, 2012. ( )

How do you do? Please state your problem.
>> Hello, Eliza.

Hi. What seems to be your problem?
>> I recently read Sherry Turkle's book, "Alone Together". I am not sure how to review it.

You say you read Sherry Turkle's book.
>> Yes. It's a book about how sociable robots and networked technologies change the way we relate to one another.

You seem to be quite positive.
>> I'm not. In fact I am sym
Daniel Solera
This is the second book of my "The Dangers of New Technologies" series of book reviews. I decided to read Sherry Turkle's Alone Together after reading an article in Slate about it. When I started working in an office that blocked Facebook, I stopped spending unnecessary amounts of time on the website and came to the realization that my life was unchanged because of it. So when I learned that someone had written something of a psychoanalytic profile on the website's effects on our daily lives, I ...more
Moira Russell
Poorly written and not that well-researched -- and my eyes glazed over so much during the long first half about robots I didn't retain much about it -- but the second half, which discusses avatars, Second Life, Skype, texting, Facebook, WoW, and so on, was a lot better, and helped me articulate some of the misgivings I've been having recently about the time I spend on the internet.

It was interesting, and saddening, she spent almost no time on blogging and the "classic" journaling sites like Live
Chris Elsden
I really wanted to like this book. Honestly I did, it deals with a fascinating topic. Sadly however, I found this far too anecdotal, repetitive and bias. Her point felt laboured, the anti-technology rhetoric was tiring and she seldom gets into any great depth on an issue. I felt she was able to point out a fairly evident phenomenon such as people texting more and calling less but failed to deeply analyse it beyond showing the angst and frustrations it brought teenagers. I do believe "we are all ...more
Hmmm. Fascinating concept. Copiously researched. Boring as all hell.

Okay, just kidding. A cheap effort to get the attention of all my on-line friends out there with whom I apparently have these illusory relationships (and, perhaps, feel pressure to serve up charming and witty sound bytes that I'm less compelled to do IRL). The book wasn't boring as all hell; it made some very interesting points at times. But there were certainly problems with the overall execution, and provocative though it was,
John Carter McKnight
A mixed bag. Turkle's overall tone, despite her constant denials of Luddism, is one of "Get off my lawn!," of cranky alienation from digital culture. There's too much of "the technology I grew up with is natural and human; the technology of Kids These Days is causing a parade of horrors."

Despite Turkle's crankiness, she does have some excellent critical observations. Her methodology is somewhat troubling, though, relying on anecdote and case study. I found myself wondering how much she cherry-pi
Audrey Babkirk Wellons
If I had to pick two descriptors for this book, I'd say "thought-provoking" and "stone-cold chilling."

As for the first part of that, I found myself alternately highlighting brilliant pieces and writing counterpoints in the margins. By the end, though, I was swayed to her way of thinking: that in our excitement for the benefits of technology, we have overlooked real and true dangers.

The sections about human-robot interactions are the creepiest thing I've read in a long time, and not not solely b
Sigh. This book. Great title, great subtitle, I wish the content had delivered. Unfortunately I am no closer to telling you why we expect more from technology & less from each other than I was before I read this book.

One of the main things that bothered me about this book was that, even though I was really interested in these issues, Turkle did not argue her points very well or very strongly. She only very briefly touches on why we should be concerned about the phenomena of "being connected"
First, I can't escape the irony of writing a review of this book for a social media website. I hope that the author can appreciate that! Like many other reviewers, I really wanted to like this book. The first half of the book deals with human-robot interactions including research conducted by Turkle and her colleagues. She does a great job of describing the results for a popular audience. The second half of the book pertains to every mode of on-line communication: gaming, chat rooms, IM, social ...more
I've been feeling a becoming-less-vague dislike of social media and portable connectivity for a while now, but had chalked those up to Luddite impulses that I should get over. This book has made me reevaluate whether those feelings are actually good. Things like my partner being on his phone constantly during meals (I feel lonely), browsing aimlessly through Facebook and feeling more and more insecure about the image I get of other people's lives compared to my own, and wishing I kept in touch w ...more
It is books like this that give social science a bad name.
Amar Pai
Who cares about Second Life

This was a fascinating collection of ideas presented by one of the foremost experts on technology and its effects on human behavior... I will be thinking about it for a long, long time. I think it's important for individuals, families, and classrooms to really consider how best to incorporate the "always on" culture without losing what she calls sacred spaces, and the human values that we want to preserve.


The first part of the book was very Furby-anecdote heavy. I know she has bee
Best critique of technology I've read in AGES. Turkle observes and records but does not judge. This, in my mind, sets her far above Carr and Morozov. Her insight, rigor, and methodology are impressive and the book is truly a must read for those concerned about the effect (affect) that networked technology has on our selves.

I found the second half to be much more powerful than the first. The book is split into two separate long-term studies. One of personable robots and the other of networked com
E. Marvin
Recently, I read an article by Jonah Lehrer. He started this article by warmly responding to a negative book review which he received. Lehrer’s smart reply gave me some ideas about reviewing other’s work. In fact, after reading his reply, I have some misgivings about reviewing a person’s work negatively. Constructively critiquing each other’s work is something I think we are still working on in social media. But how is that done? How do I warmly critique someone’s work? Yet, before I start my re ...more
Lauren Ruth
What a good book this is! Humane, filled with common-sense, and refreshing.

The writing is not graceful—it's a bit wordy, repetitive, occasionally ponderous. It's not as well-organized or tight as it could be, either—somewhat redundant in ideas as well as words. But these are minor quibbles compared to how well this book does on the two critical aspects of nonfiction: the importance of the topic, and the arguments and insights it offers. In these, it shines.

The two main sections of Alone Together
This one falls into the same trap as "God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens: while I agree with the subject matter very much, after awhile I grew somewhat bored by it for that very reason. In this case, more so. Turkle's approach is very dry and academic. She is an instructor at MIT and it reads as such. The book is very easily broken down into introduction (explaining what she is going to cover), the two main sections (one on robots, one on social media and online/electronic interactions) a ...more
Chris Witt
I've struggled with how to review this, but here goes a half-assed attempt...

"Alone Together" is broken down into two parts. The first part deals with robotics. And it was awful. Everything reeks of a psychologist who has found exactly what she set out to find. For example, it felt like she wanted to show that children are unable to tell the difference between human beings and electronic toys. So she interviews, say, 100 of them. And if she finds one of them that confirms her theory, she devotes
The best things about the book are the titles of its two sections: 1) In Solitude, New Intimacies 2) In Intimacy, New Solitudes. The first section deals with how we perceive and interact with robots and how this may develop in the future. The second section deals with how our networked lives that are supposed to keep us more connected may be going the other way. Turkle has done most of his research on teenagers. Call me old, but I didn't like reading chapter after chapter about teenagers who sen ...more
I admit, I gave up on this book after about 100 pages. For those of us over 40 (45?), this book sometimes seems like an academic rant against all the technology that connects us, while keeping us separate. While I agree with some of the concepts outlined in this book, I felt that the author was constantly looking for research (or conducting her own) to support her own preconceived ideas. I had been looking forward to a somewhat original take on technology and society, but the beginning of the bo ...more
Leanna Pohevitz
I completely love this book. I've been living in Morocco for the last year and half and coming home was extremely overwhelming for me. I was angry at smartphones and people for relying on them. I was sick of the internet. I was overwhelmed by how little people expected from each other in person but how much they demanded of each other online.

I picked up this book from a long reading list I just hadn't gotten around to. Once I started I was hooked though I had to constantly put it down to think.
Richard Thompson
Turkle focuses on two technologies that have the potential to redefine who are as human beings: robots designed to respond to and mimic back human emotions, robots designed to "care"; and hyperconnective technologies like the Internet, smartphones, Facebook, texting and Instant Messaging.

Both technologies, as described by Turkle, have pretty gigantic creepiness factors, but hyperconnectivity seems to me to be scarier because it is HERE. Ubiquitous personal robot companions are (maybe) something
Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other is not a book about technology. It is a book about people and how they interact with technology. Technology obsession or addiction is a symptom to a larger problem. Sherry Turkle is a MIT professor of social science and the science of technology as well as a licensed psychologist. She began studying people’s relationship to technology in the days before the personal computer was a household item. This book is the third i ...more
Feb 22, 2012 Kaethe marked it as stricken  ·  review of another edition
Any theory predicated on "hookup culture" is bound to be full of stupidity. A theory which says all teens eschew sentimentality, and deep emotions, but also that they all adore "Twilight"'s angsty schmaltz and tortuous love is, you know, not a good or useful theory.
Go ahead. Read this book and Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows". Terrifying stuff. Both should be required reading for any person starting out (or, much more likely, continuing on) on the internet. Guard your mind and your privacy. Turkle's background in psychoanalysis gives her a solid humanist foundation from which to assess the claims made by and for the internet on our social, psychic, and spiritual lives. While she focuses most often on children and teenagers, the arguments are broadly applicab ...more
Josiah DeGraaf
Most technology books tend to focus on how it negatively affects our mind and impairs our thinking. However, given her unique background as a trained psychologist and professor at MIT, Turkle brings a very unique perspective into discussions about technology.

The book is basically divided into two main parts, both centered on different ways that we seek community through technology: one half of the book focusing on human-robot interactions, and the other half on human-human interactions mediated
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Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT and the founder (2001) and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Professor Turkle received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist.

More about Sherry Turkle...

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