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A New Understanding of Mental Disorders A Theory of Feelings Addictions Memory and the Self"Intimate" Violence against Women1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Healing Stories101 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started Using Hypnosis50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God8 Keys to Body Brain BalanceA Brief History of Modern PsychologyA Conceptual History of PsychologyA Conceptual History of Psychology: Exploring the Tangled Web A Cooperative SpeciesA Guide to Teaching Introductory PsychologyA History of Modern Experimental PsychologyA History of Psychology in AutobiographyA History of Social PsychologyA History of the BrainA History of the MindA Hole in the HeadA Matter of SecurityA Mind of Its OwnA Natural History of Human ThinkingA Place for ConsciousnessA Scientific Search for AltruismA Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in ChildrenA Social History of PsychologyA Stroll With William JamesA System Architecture Approach to the BrainA 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IntentionsEffective Writing in PsychologyEffortless AttentionEmbodied Minds in ActionEmbracing MindEmbracing UncertaintyEMDR Therapy and Somatic PsychologyEmotion and ConsciousnessEmotion ExperienceEmotion RegulationEmotion, Evolution, And RationalityEmotional IntelligenceEmotionally InvolvedEmotionsEmotionsEmotions and LifeEmotions in Humans and ArtifactsEmotions RevealedEmotions, Aggression, and Morality in ChildrenEmotions, Stress, and HealthEmpathyEnjoymentErotic MoralityEscape Your Own PrisonEssays in Social NeuroscienceEssential Sources in the Scientific Study of ConsciousnessEthical Issues in Forensic Mental Health ResearchEthically Challenged ProfessionsEveryday Mind ReadingEvidence for PsiEvidence-Based Mental Health PracticeEvil MenEvolution and Human BehaviorEvolution and LearningEvolution, Games, and GodEvolution, Gender, and RapeEvolutionary Psychology and ViolenceEvolutionary Psychology as Maladapted PsychologyExacting BeautyExperiences of DepressionExperimenterExplaining 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PersonalityOn the Frontier of AdulthoodOn the Origins of Cognitive ScienceOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOnflowOpen MindsOpening Skinner's BoxOrigin of MindOrigins of PsychopathologyOther MindsOut of Our HeadsOut of the WoodsOvercoming Depersonalization DisorderPanpsychism and the Religious AttitudePanpsychism in the WestParenting and the Child's WorldPassionate EnginesPathologies of the WestPatient-Based Approaches to Cognitive NeurosciencePediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople Types and Tiger StripesPerception & CognitionPerception beyond InferencePerception, Hallucination, and IllusionPersonal Development and Clinical PsychologyPerspectives on ImitationPhantoms in the BrainPhenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal KnowledgePhenomenology and Philosophy of MindPhilosophical Foundations of NeurosciencePhilosophical MidwiferyPhilosophy and HappinessPhilosophy of PsychologyPhilosophy, Neuroscience and ConsciousnessPhrenologyPhysical RealizationPhysics in MindPieces of LightPlaying with FirePositive 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Culture, and SubjectivityScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologyScience and Pseudoscience in Clinical PsychologySecond NatureSecond NatureSecond That EmotionSecond-order Change in PsychotherapySecrets of the MindSee What I'm SayingSee What I'm SayingSeeing and VisualizingSeeing RedSelf and SocietySelf Comes to MindSelf Control in Society, Mind, and BrainSelf-Awareness Deficits in Psychiatric PatientsSelf-CompassionSelf-Consciousness and 'Split' BrainsSelf-RegulationSelf-Representational Approaches to ConsciousnessSelfless InsightSelvesSerial KillersSex at DawnSex on the BrainSex, Time and PowerSexual Coercion in Primates and HumansSexual DisordersSexual FluiditySexual ReckoningsSexualized BrainsShame and GuiltShatteredSimulating MindsSisyphus's BoulderSleepyheadSNAPSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial NeuroscienceSocial Psychology and DiscourseSome We Love, Some We Hate, Some We EatSoul DustSparkSpiral of EntrapmentSplendors and Miseries of the BrainSports Hypnosis in 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WithinUnsettled MindsUnstrange MindsUnthinkingUnthoughtUs and ThemViolent PartnersVirtue, Vice, and PersonalityVision and MindVisual AgnosiaWarrior's DishonourWe Who Are DarkWednesday Is Indigo BlueWelcome to Your BrainWhat Do Women Want?What Dying People WantWhat Have We DoneWhat Intelligence Tests MissWhat Is an Emotion: Classic and Contemporary ReadingsWhat Is Emotion?What is Intelligence?What Is Mental Illness?What Is Thought?What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite What the Best College Students DoWhat the Dog SawWhat We Know about Emotional IntelligenceWhat We Say MattersWhat's Wrong With Morality?When Boys Become BoysWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen the Impossible HappensWhen Walls Become DoorwaysWho's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWho's in Charge?Why Humans Like to CryWhy Love MattersWhy Lyrics LastWhy People CooperateWhy People Die by SuicideWhy Sex Matters: A Darwinian Look at Human BehaviorWhy Smart People Can Be So StupidWhy the Mind is Not a ComputerWhy Us?Why We LieWhy We LoveWhy We SleepWider than the SkyWilliam James at the BoundariesWilling, Wanting, WaitingWittgenstein And PsychologyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWorking MindsYoga and PsychologyYou Are What You RememberYoung Minds in Social WorldsYour Brain on CubsYour Brain on FoodYour Brain on Food: How Chemicals Control Your Thoughts and Feelings,Your Brain on YogaYour Child in the BalanceZombies and Consciousness
Very few and far
between are the people who can still remember a life without computers. We
now use computer technology without a thought as to the way in which the
machine functions, and we even frequently refer to human behaviour in terms of
computational metaphors. Although when Sherry Turkle published the first
edition of The Second Self, just over twenty years ago, things were actually
quite different. The Second Self is a ground-breaking exploration of the
role of the computer in our lives at a time when the personal computer was just
an emerging trend, accessible to a rather limited group of people. Turkle was
one of the few researchers to take interest in the ways in which computers can
impact on our psychological development and our relationships to others. Taking
cues from Piaget, Levy-Strauss, Freud, Hume and Rogers she conducted interviews
and observations with children, new and experienced users of computer technology
in order to determine how the machines, and the use we make of them, might
affect our being in the world.
A very thorough
and ambitious study, The Second Self still relied on a number of
predictions that couldn't
possibly have taken into account how fast the technology would evolve and
spread. Indeed, the author's
belief that teaching programming to children would allow them to build identity
and self-esteem more or less fell through as knowledge of programming is now
optional, if not entirely superfluous, when it comes to using most computers.
Actually, much of her argument according to which computers could have a
positive impact on our lives on the basis of our having a measure of control
over them, as a tool, that could extend into developing a sense of control in
the wider world now seems rather quaint. Indeed, the wonderful world of I.T. as
envisioned by Turkle was, in 1984, one of transparency in which all users had a
knowledge of the machine's
functions and capabilities and were able to use them in order to palliate to
their own weaknesses. Reading The Second Self now we are reminded that only
twenty years ago all instructions had to be typed in, programmed down to the
last bracket. There were no user friendly interfaces, replete with icons on which
we could just click in order for a line of code, the details of which we ignore,
to be applied.
people still have programming knowledge, their work focuses more and more on
creating functions and programs so others don't need to know how to use code. Transparency is now in the hands of
an elite group of people who can consecrate their entire professional lives to
following the development of a technology that evolves at unprecedented speed,
the likes of which a dabbler couldn't possibly keep up with. Turkle had foreseen computer technology as a
cognitive experience, an ultimate heuristic tool the use of which could help
the development of identity and self-esteem, as well as social processes and
political views. But, for her vision to have evolved it would have been
necessary for the processes behind the use of the machines to still be at the
forefront of our activities, yet computers have gradually made the processes more
and more invisible. By doing so, their status has slipped from that of a tool --
an extension of their users, according to Marxist thought -- to that of a machine
which imposes its rules and rhythms to its users.
In spite of this
somewhat shaky position, which she has had the opportunity to revisit in other
publications as well as in the new introduction written for the special
edition, the psychological and sociological angle of Turkle's study remains rather unique, and its
validity can hardly be dismissed. Hence, the pertinence of a twentieth-century
edition that allows the author to revise technological inaccuracies and to
further her reflection on the impact of computing on our daily lives cannot be
denied. This edition also boasts a rather intriguing epilogue, which centres on
artificial intelligence. More care to the impact of Internet might have been of
great interest, especially when it comes to the ways in which the World Wide
Web has redefined our idea of communication as well as our perception of the
self and others; yet her foray into artificial intelligence has the seeds of
what could be an upcoming book. Indeed, Turkle introduces research on our
emotional response to robots that could lead to great metaphysical and ethical
issues. In short what this book demonstrates is that more research, in social
science, needs to be done in order to better understand the impact that
technology, and the uses we make of it, has on our lives.
© 2006 Martine
Rouleau is Tate Fellow at the London Consortium (Birkbeck College, University of London) where she is currently a PhD candidate. She obtained a Masters in
Communication from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2002.
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