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

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  4,341 Ratings  ·  630 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!*
I first read and reviewed this book back in 2011, when it was my summer reading for the incoming freshmen at my college. My initial review, though, was just too rambling––and in retrospect, it took on a rather annoying and childish tone. So, I'm here to entirely rewrite what I first wrote, in hopefully a more concise and mature fashion.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't finish reading this book. I think I made it a little over halfway through, and I just couldn't do it. (And I say this as someone
...more
Katie Schmid
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
M Gilbert
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Elsden
Apr 01, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...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
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
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
John Carter McKnight
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
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
Paige
May 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Amar Pai
Who cares about Second Life
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
Miloš Kostić
Knjiga se bavi načinima na koje tehnologija utiče na nas, na naš razvoj i na naše odnose. Podeljena je na dva dela: prvi govori o društvenim robotima koji se već dugo koriste u naprednijem svetu, drugi je o sredstvima za komunikaciju, telefonima i internetu. Suština knjige: sve smo spremniji da nežive objekte tretiramo kao subjekte a da jedni druge tretiramo kao objekte. Ljudi misle da imaju kontrolu nad tehnologijom ali na kraju shvate da je jedina odluka koju su zaista doneli sami, ona prva, d ...more
Jocelyn
Every time I read one of these books, I am amazed by how utterly they manage to miss the mark, and by how the author manages to track down the 8 people who are still playing Second Life.
Paula
Aug 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is books like this that give social science a bad name.
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
...more
Jane
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lisa
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vivian
May 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jafar
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Kaethe
Feb 22, 2012 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.
Lauren Ruth
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melinda
A very worthwhile book to read. Having been part of the world of artificial intelligence and robotics in years past, this book is a fine overview of the development of the first "thinking" machines (like ELIZA) to the current trend of robots that "feel" or relate. Or at least we have programmed them to simulate responses that to us indicate "feeling". In the first half of the book, the author raises the dilemma -- we are beginning to rely on relational robots or care-taker robots more than human ...more
Dan
Jan 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never_finished, 2011
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
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
Roy Klein
I've done the opposite to what most people confessed to do - I read the robots part rather than the social networks part. I tried reading the social networks part, but by the time I got there I grew extremely tired of the constant in-depth descriptions of her tests subjects. Obviously Turkle grew very attached to some of them, and spares us no detail in describing their every muse and emotion. I'd say that what I've read comprises of about 70% of that. 25% more is spent on rehashing her opinion ...more
cuifen
May 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The premise of this book is so promising - but the way it's written lets it down. I read reviews that it was too anecdotal and had difficulty imagining how that could be a bad thing. Now I completely understand. It reads rather ramblingly, goes on in circles relating story after story about the same kind of moral, and ultimately comes off as kind of insubstantial because almost nothing that is put forth in this book is backed by solid data, studies, or anything of the sort. It's like if I'd writ ...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.

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“We expect more from technology and less from each other.” 14 likes
“Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.” 13 likes
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