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

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  1,989 ratings  ·  381 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 to...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published 2011 by Basic Books
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Alone Together by Sherry TurkleAt Home by Bill BrysonThe Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanMonoculture by F.S. MichaelsMan's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
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1st out of 65 books — 7 voters
Alone Together by Sherry TurkleThe Paradox of Choice by Barry SchwartzEngage by Brian SolisTribes by Seth GodinThe Cluetrain Manifesto by Rick Levine
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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...more
Katie
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
MG
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...more
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
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...more
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
Chris
Conversation with Eliza Bot. Wed Feb 15, 2012. ( http://chayden.net/eliza/Eliza.html )

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...more
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...more
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
K
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,...more
Audrey Babkirk
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...more
Paige
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"...more
Lisa
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
Jane
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
Amar Pai
Who cares about Second Life
Elizabeth
3.5/5

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.

However.

The first part of the book was very Furby-anecdote heavy. I know she has bee...more
Nicholas
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...more
Ed Lehner
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...more
Dan
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
Jafar
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
Vivian
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
Kaethe
Feb 22, 2012 Kaethe marked it as stricken
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.
Steve
Jun 10, 2011 Steve rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Steve by: Krista Tippett on Being
Shelves: ui-lib, icpl
I will start with the big question that this book asks and end with some important words from the conclusion. The question is
"What are we missing in our lives together that leads us to prefer lives alone together?"

This question is drawn from these selected words from the book's conclusion.

"We don't do email, our email does us."

"We enjoy continual connection but rarely have each other's attention."

"We like being able to reach each other almost instantaneously but have to hide our phones to forc...more
Mjhancock
Sherry Turkle argues that we need to take a step back and think about how our networked technology and distance from fellow human beings are negatively affecting us. Her book is divided into two broad parts: section one looks at human relationships with robots, and section two looks at human use of communication technology. The methodology is basically the same throughout; Turkle bases her results on the analysis she performs on interviews and studies she performed of children, adults, and the e...more
Gary Lang
This is one of those books that tries to shed some light on what effects pervasive communications, robot companions, and social networking are having on society. I think we're meant to think that this stuff is inherently flawed, and I don't know if that's the case or not, but as I read the well-described examples and case studies, I couldn't help wondering if it wasn't too early in the technology life-cycles for these things to pass judgment.

I was surprised to read about Eliza in this book, sin...more
Zare K
Sherry Turkle's 1995 book "Life On The Screen" was in no small part responsible for sparking my own interest in the internet, computer-aided social networks, and the ways in which people relate to technology. As such, I was excited to read her analysis of more recent social and technological developments. "Alone Together" is divided into two parts, the first focusing on sociable robots (from Furbies to elder-care bots) and the second on the "always on" world of mobile devices and the social web....more
Maureen
The whole concept of this book is fascinating - that with the increase in technology in our lives, we are losing some important human elements, some of the very elements that make us human. The author has dedicated her professional life to this topic, and this third book in her opus is comprehensive and thought-provoking. But a little too comprehensive.
I was most interested in the the parts that I'd read about in the media - of how families sit together in a room, but don't talk since they're a...more
Melissa
I would give this fewer stars, because it left me dreadfully unhappy and depressed, but I think it is a necessary read. I can't decide if this was fascinating, or frightening, but I lean heavily toward frightening. I like my social media, but not where it is going, particularly since children, teens, and adults can avoid self-acceptance by creating avatars and profiles that project who they would like to be and "living" through that personna instead. Suddenly the higher suicide rate makes sense...more
Noah W
Ironically, I watched the iPhone 5 video today and the video begins by discussing how the iPhone is the one thing that people always have with them and how they take changing the iPhone very seriously because of the connection that people have with it.

"Alone Together" addresses the impact of technology on our society and delves into how deep the wires and circuits have become embedded into our culture.

The first part of the book explores the interaction between humans and robots: the Furbies and...more
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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.

Profes...more
More about Sherry Turkle...
Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet Evocative Objects: Things We Think with The Second Self: Computers & the Human Spirit (20th Anniversary) The Inner History of Devices Simulation and Its Discontents (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)

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“we seem determined to give human qualities to objects and content to treat each other as things.” 7 likes
“We expect more from technology and less from each other.” 7 likes
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