Discussion on Sherry Turkle and her ideas about self, identity and technology

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Some notes from two of Sherry Turkle's works: …

Some notes from two of Sherry Turkle's works:
Turkle, S. (1994) Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDS.
Mind, Culture, and Activity. Vol. 1, No. 3 summer.
and
Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
These works are well worth reading in full.
This is just some points taken from those readings to be used in my class

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  • 1. Some Discussions on Sherry Turkle Nick Reynolds ICT and C21 Learning Communities The University of Melbourne
  • 2. Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality  What individuals alone can achieve is ‘raised to a higher power’ when communicating with computers (in this case through MUDs) Turkle, S. (1994) Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDS. Mind, Culture, and Activity. Vol. 1, No. 3 summer.
  • 3. Online Self  Julee – role plays her own relationship with her mother with positive consequences. Turkle sees this as the opposite of how online games are portrayed  “You are the character and you are not the character both at the same time,” “you are who you pretend to be”  Peter’s learning of world politics, culture and economics developed through MUDs  Anonymity, invisibility, multiplicity
  • 4. Positive Outcomes  The computer as an ‘evocative object’ – promotes self reflection and stimulates thought  Gender swapping and development of understanding and empathy of the social construction of gender  Habitat as a representation of ‘real’ life  ‘Virtual reality is not “real”, but it has a relationship to the real. By being betwixt and between, it becomes a play space for thinking about the real world’ (p. 165)  Compare with her discussion about the liminal nature of neighbourhood spaces in Turkle (2008) Turkle, S. (1994) Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDS. Mind, Culture, and Activity. Vol. 1, No. 3 summer.
  • 5. Virtual Relationships  Human interactions with Artificial Intelligence  Blade Runner  HAL 9000  Alien  The Turing Test  http://www.turinghub.com/  ‘Watch for a nascent culture of virtual reality that underscores the ways in which we construct gender and the self, the ways in which we become what we play, argue about and build. And watch for a culture that leaves new space for the idea that he or she who plays, and builds might be doing so with a machine’ (p. 167) Turkle, S. (1994) Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the MUDS. Mind, Culture, and Activity. Vol. 1, No. 3 summer.
  • 6. Always-On/Always-On-You: The tethered self  Connection to technology and availability – always communicating electronically  Connectedness is essential and working technology must be close Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 7. Always-On/Always-On-You: The tethered self  ‘Increasingly what people want out of public spaces is that they offer a place to be private with tethering technologies’, mad people talking, shouting, gesturing, laughing to themselves – all tolerated as the norm now  ‘neighbourhood spaces themselves become liminal, not entirely public, not entirely private’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 8. Redefined presence  The act of using a mobile phone ‘transports’ the user ‘to the space of the new ether, virtualised’  ‘the rapid movements from physical to a multiplicity of digital selves’ described through the metaphor of ‘cycling-through’  ‘With cell technology, rapid cycling stabilises into a sense of continual co-presence’ (p. 122)  ‘Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I am psychologically tuned to the connections that matter’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 9. Grammars of ‘transport’  A new set of signs that signify a person is ‘elsewhere’  Looking at their lap  Speaking into the air  Loss of focus  Shift of gaze  ‘They are transported to the space of a new ether, virtualised’ (p. 123) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 10. New Grammars of communication  SMS – ‘It is hard to get too many words on the phone keyboard and there is not cultural incentive to do so  Online, On my phone, On Facebook, On the Web – a suggestion of a ‘tethered self’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 11. New connectedness  ‘Ignoring those one is physically “with” to give priority to online others’  Sitting in international conferences checking email  Tweeting about conference speakers’ presentation  ‘these conversations are as much about jockeying for professional position … as they are about what is being said at the podium’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 12. Embodied Status  Remote connectedness enables you to work in exotic locations  Tethering to technology helps you ‘love your body’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 13. Community and ‘friends’  Size of one’s contact list important  How many friends or followers do you have?  ‘we are wanted by those we know … the potential, as yet unknown friends who wait for us in virtual places’  Being more attached to the site rather than to the acquaintances within it  ‘The site becomes a transference object: the place where friendships come from’ Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 14. Working on identity  ‘We never “graduate” from working on identity; we simply work on it with the materials we have at hand’  People aren’t tethered to their devices. They are tethered to the gratifications offered by their online selves  Affection, conversation, new beginnings, vanit Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 15. Working on identity  ‘More than the sum of their instrumental functions, tethering devices help to constitute new subjectivities.  Powerful evocative objects for adults, they are even more intense and compelling for adolescents, at that point in development when identity play is at the centre of life’ (p. 125) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 16. Creating Personae  Avatars in games  Web pages  Facebook profiles  Playlists  Sharing bookmarks (delicious)  ‘Multiple playlists reflect aspects of self. And once you have collected your own music, you can make connections to people all over the world to whom you can send your songs’ (p. 126) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 17. Inner History  Relationships to artifacts and the promise of connections  Removal of ability for single reflection  ‘The anxiety that teens report when they are without their cell phones or their link to the internet may not speak so much to missing the easy socialability with others but of missing the self that is constituted in those relationships’ (p. 127) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 18. Validation  A mobile phone allows us to be always there, always connected  Validation of self is permanently available  At the moment of having a thought or feeling, one can have it validated  Or one may need to have it validated  It may need validation to become established Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 19. Self and reflection  Mobile phone culture, despite being a talk culture, is ‘not necessarily a culture in which talk contributes to self-reflection’  Empathetic interchanges reduced ‘to the shorthand of emoticon emotions’  “who am I?” and “who are you?” reformatted for the small screen; flattened Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 20. The Tethered Adult  Watching life ‘scroll by’  Stress of responisibility to keep up with email  Always being behind  Taking the office with you – everywhere  Need for immediate response - even when a wise response requires reflective time. Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 21. Taking time  Checking email, making/receiving phone calls  In a taxi  On a train  At the airport  No time for self  Continual partial attention  (always listening to a device) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 22. The monitored self  Foucault – citizens who do not need to be watched  We try to keep up with our lives as they are presented to us by a new disciplining technology Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Think about Foucault’s notion of “governmentality”
  • 23. Boundaries  Losing partners, parents, friends, children for a few seconds or a few minutes to an alternative reality  ‘We live and work with people whose commitment to our presence feels increasingly tenuous because they are tethered to more important virtual others’ (p. 131) Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 24. Self shaped by technology  Our technology reflects and shapes our values  ‘The self is calibrated on the basis of what the technology proposes, by what it makes possible, by what it makes easy’  Yet we have created a communications culture that has decreased the time available for us to sit and think interrupted Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press Think about technology being “socially shaped and socially shaping” (Raymond Williams in Buckingham, 2008).
  • 25. Tethered to whom?  We respond to humans and to objects that represent them  We no longer demand that as a person we have another person as an interlocutor  Call centres  Bill payments  Intuitive software  Games Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 26. The Future  Robot carers  Robot pets  Does the provision on AI carers/pets remove the need for human contact?  Relational artifacts are the latest trajectory of the tethered self Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  • 27. Relationships and Self  Relational artifacts represent their programmers but are given autonomy and primitive psychologies  What is an authentic relationship with a machine?  What are machines doing to our relationships with people?  What is a relationship? Turkle, S. (2008) Always on/always on you: The tethered self. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies, James E. Katz (ed.) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press