Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships: with others, with ourselves, with it.

Why you should listen

Since her pathbreaking The Second Self: Computers and The Human Spirit in 1984 psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle has been studying how technology changes not only what we do but who we are. In 1995's Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Turkle explored how the Internet provided new possibilities for exploring identity.

Described as "the Margaret Mead of digital cuture," Turkle has now turned her attention to the world of social media and sociable robots. As she puts it, these are technologies that propose themselves "as the architect of our intimacies." In her most recent book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Turkle argues that the social media we encounter on a daily basis are confronting us with a moment of temptation. Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. Turkle suggests that just because we grew up with the Internet, we tend to see it as all grown up, but it is not: Digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it.

Turkle is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

What others say

“What technology makes easy is not always what nurtures the human spirit.” — Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Sherry Turkle


Connected but alone? Highlights from our Live Conversation with Sherry Turkle

April 13, 2012

Yesterday, TED2012 speaker Sherry Turkle held a 1-hour Live Conversation around her new TEDTalk “Connected but alone?” She asked the community this question: “How has digital technology changed the kind of communications you have with your friends, family and coworkers?” Here are some highlights of the back-and-forth: Vanessa Borg : “Changes in digital technology has […]

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Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012

March 1, 2012

Photo: James Duncan Davidson Just a moment ago Sherry Turkle‘s daughter texted her: “Mom, you will rock.” Turkle loved it, she says. “Getting that text was like getting a hug.” Turkle, who has written extensively on the nature of human relations on the internet, who evangelized the internet, who loves receiving that text, is here to tell […]

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