Sherry Turkle

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Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a sociologist. Born in New York City in 1948, she has focused her research on psychoanalysis and culture and on the psychology of people's relationship with technology, especially computer technology and computer addiction.

In The Second Self, Turkle uses mainly Jean Piaget's psychology discourse to discuss how children learn about computers and how this affects their minds.

In Life on the Screen, Turkle describes how assuming different personal identities in a MUD may be therapeutic. As far as women and computers are concerned, Turkle points out women's "non-linear" approach to the technology, calling it "soft mastery" and "bricolage" (as opposed to the "hard mastery" of linear, abstract thinking and computer programming). She also considers the problems that arise when using MUDs. Another problem she talks about is what happens when underage children present themselves as people above the age of 18. This leads to the problem of adults having relationships with children posing as older people.

Turkle also explores the psychological and societal impact of such "relational artifacts" as sociable robots, and how these and other technologies are changing attitudes about human life and concepts about what it means for something to be alive. One result may be a devaluation of authentic experience in a relationship.

Turkle was formerly married to Seymour Papert, and together they wrote the influential paper "Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete." [2]



Professor Turkle has written numerous articles on psychoanalysis and culture and on the "subjective side" of people's relationships with technology, especially computers. She is engaged in active study of robots, digital pets, and simulated creatures, particularly those designed for children and the elderly as well as in a study of mobile cellular technologies. Profiles of Professor Turkle have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Scientific American, and Wired Magazine. She is a featured media commentator on the effects of technology for CNN, NBC, ABC, and NPR, including appearances on such programs as Nightline and 20/20.

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