From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 19:09:45 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet

   by Sherry Turkle

    Simon & Schuster
    04 September, 1997


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Editorial description(s):
Sherry Turkle is rapidly becoming the sociologist of the Internet, and that's beginning to seem like a good thing. While her first outing, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, made groundless assertions and seemed to be carried along more by her affection for certain theories than by a careful look at our current situation, Life on the Screen is a balanced and nuanced look at some of the ways that cyberculture helps us comment upon real life (what the cybercrowd sometimes calls RL). Instead of giving in to any one theory on construction of identity, Turkle looks at the way various netizens have used the Internet, and especially MUDs (Multi-User Dimensions), to learn more about the possibilities available in apprehending the world. One of the most interesting sections deals with gender, a topic prone to rash and partisan pronouncements. Taking as her motto William James's maxim "Philosophy is the art of imagining alternatives," Turkle shows how playing with gender in cyberspace can shape a person's real-life understanding of gender. Especially telling are the examples of the man who finds it easier to be assertive when playing a woman, because he believes male assertiveness is now frowned upon while female assertiveness is considered hip, and the woman who has the opposite response, believing that it is easier to be aggressive when she plays a male, because as a woman she would be considered "bitchy." Without taking sides, Turkle points out how both have expanded their emotional range. Other topics, such as artificial life, receive an equally calm and sage response, and the first-person accounts from many Internet users provide compelling reading and good source material for readers to draw their own conclusions.

From Publishers Weekly
The Internet, with its computer bulletin boards, virtual communities, games and private domains where people strike up relationships or emulate sex, is a microcosm of an emerging "culture of simulation" that substitutes representations of reality for the real world, asserts Turkle (The Second Self). In an unsettling, cutting-edge exploration of the ways computers are revising the boundaries between people and computers, brains and machines, she argues that the newest computers?tools for interaction, navigation and simulation, allowing users to cycle through roles and identities?are an extension of self with striking parallels to postmodernist thought. She also looks at "computer psychotherapy" programs such as Depression 2.0, a set of tutorials designed to increase awareness of self-defeating attitudes; hypertext software for creating links between related songs, texts, photographs or videos; and "artificial life," attempts to build intelligent, self-organizing, complex, self-replicating systems and virtual organisms.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the

From Library Journal
This treatise by the best-selling author of The Second Self (LJ 6/15/84) explores the world of virtual identity on the Internet by examining "Multi-User Domains" (MUDs). Turkle describes MUDs as a new kind of "virtual parlor game" and a form of online community in which one's identity (both physical and behavioral) is represented by one's own textual description of it. She portrays MUDs as "a dramatic example of how an activity on the Internet can serve as a place for the construction and reconstruction of identity." She discusses these computer-mediated worlds and their impact on our psychological selves, describing a virtual world in which the self is multiple, fluid, and constituted in interaction with machine connections. In her concluding remarks, she points out that MUDs are not implicated in occurrences of multiple personality disorder (MPD); rather, manifestations of multiplicity in our culture, including MUDs and MPDs, are contributing to an overall reconsideration of our traditional views of identity. A provocative if somewhat esoteric study of virtual identity. For an informed audience.
Joe Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the

Los Angeles Herald Examiner
Perhaps the most thoughtful book that has been written to date about the relationship between computers and people --This text refers to the

Few people with Turkle's "humanist" credentials have immersed themselves so knowledgeably in the hermetically sealed techno-world, and she writes about computers in ways that make them relevant even to those who are most put off by them. --This text refers to the

New York Times
Sherry Turkle, sociology of science professor at MIT, became a prophet of cyberspace with her 1984 book, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. Life on the Screen continues her philosophical exploration of the impact upon human psychology of computers and the online virtual world. She argues that the new and extraordinary cyberworld is having a profound effect on the wider culture; and that in a realm where hypertext deconstructs writing, where on-line relationships replace RL (Real Life), and where computers blur the line between mind and machine, we have a working model of postmodernist thought. --This text refers to the

Simon & Schuster
Life on the Screenis a book not about computers, but about people and how computers are causing us to reevaluate our identities in the age of the Internet. We are using life on the screen to engage in new ways of thinking about evolution, relationships, politics, sex, and the self. Life on the Screen traces a set of boundary negotiations, telling the story of the changing impact of the computer on our psychological lives and our evolving ideas about minds, bodies, and machines. What is emerging, Turkle says, is a new sense of identity-- as decentered and multiple. She describes trends in computer design, in artificial intelligence, and in people's experiences of virtual environments that confirm a dramatic shift in our notions of self, other, machine, and world. The computer emerges as an object that brings postmodernism down to earth. --This text refers to the

Book Description
Life on the Screenis a book not about computers, but about people and how computers are causing us to reevaluate our identities in the age of the Internet. We are using life on the screen to engage in new ways of thinking about evolution, relationships, politics, sex, and the self. Life on the Screen traces a set of boundary negotiations, telling the story of the changing impact of the computer on our psychological lives and our evolving ideas about minds, bodies, and machines. What is emerging, Turkle says, is a new sense of identity-- as decentered and multiple. She describes trends in computer design, in artificial intelligence, and in people's experiences of virtual environments that confirm a dramatic shift in our notions of self, other, machine, and world. The computer emerges as an object that brings postmodernism down to earth. --This text refers to the

Reader review(s):

Life on the Screem: Identity in the Age of the Internet, March 3, 2000
Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet

By Sherry Turkle

Review by Linda Larson

Pepperdine University Doctoral Student

As a read Turkle's book, I constantly reflected on my life long interest in reading science fiction and realized what was (please excuse the clich�) once science fiction is now science fact. Granted this is not a new idea, but it is certainly relevant to Turkle's book. Turkle has so many thought provoking ideas that during the reading, I found my mind constantly flashing backward to science fiction novels, I read, where the technology, I read about, only existed in fiction. Then my mind would flash to the present time and I realized that much of the fictional technology I read about was now a reality. Finally, my mind would flash forward to speculate what technology has in store for mankind in the future. Being an avid reader of science fiction and viewer of science fiction movies and television, I think of the advances I see in technology from a different vantage point from someone without this interest in science fiction. From my point of view, I have been reading about these ideas for years and I have just been waiting for the technology to make these ideas a reality. Turkle's book provided an interesting journey into the past, present and future of what Life of the Screen is and how this is having an impact on our personal identities and the way we view the world.

My own life on the screen began in1979 when I first purchased my Apple II. I can easily identify with Turkle when she discussed her first experiences with using an early word processor. She commented in her book that the computer screen "tantalizes her with its holding power." She found it hard to turn way from the screen. She explained further that computers were an extension of us. She likened the interaction with the computer to playing a musical instrument. I agreed with her because my interaction, with the computer, is like piano lessons I took as a child. The computer can be a way of expression just like playing the piano can be a way of self-expression.

Turkle's book Life on the Screen, offered many intriguing insights into how human interaction, with the computer, has changed through the years, as the human race has interacted with the screen. "Today's high school students are more like to think of computers as fluid simulation surface for writing and game playing than as rigid machines to program. Full membership in the culture is based on not programming skill but being able to use the software out of the box."

Turkle's thought provoking book provided a plethora of ideas, but the ideas that fascinated me most were the following: The first idea evolved around the concept of examining how human beings interacted with the computer and how this interaction this has changed over the years. An interesting example of this was looking at how computer interface evolved, as Steve Jobs tried to make the Mac more "real world-like," by using the desktop metaphor. The second idea explored the complex area of artificial intelligence (AI) and Turkle's stories provide many useful insights into the area of (AI). The third idea examined the concept of using the computer to imitate real life. Turkle pointed out that this could be a problem because, as humans, we could get used to the fast scene changing of media like television, video games and simulations. Then, when we are living in the real world, where changes occur at a much slower pace, this could cause some problems. In her book, she offers interesting ways to deal with this dilemma. The fourth idea I found interesting was whole section on multi-user domains (MUDs). Turkle thinks there a place in the world for both the real and the virtual. For example, she devoted an entire section of the book to the fascinating world of MUDS. Personally, I found this the most interesting section of the book. Using her experience as a lecturer and researcher, she illustrated her ideas using many anecdotes on the complexities of the human personality. She helped the reader understand both the light and dark side of life on the Internet: On the Internet, individuals can have multiple personalities, work out personal problems, and play out fictional stories all in their life on the screen. The final idea that seemed to sum it all up is a concept that Turkle offered toward the end of her book. She saw the Internet like an enormous brain that was evolving and changing, and she thinks we all are all part of the "network" called the Internet. What I wonder is what is this going to evolve into: a Borg collective or what? Time will only tell.

A Disquietingly Personal Book...More than I Expected, July 20, 2000
Turkle does a magnificant job in illustrating the human persona while online. As our culture becomes more and more internet dependent, and it becomes easier to be a "globalized" person, psychological changes are sure to take effect. "Life On the Screen" is illustrated with some wry humor, as well as vivid examples.

Sometimes doing someonething online makes it seem less "real." For instance, carding something-aka using a fake credit card number-is less 'real' if you do it online, to order something, than it is to waltz into say, BestBuy and using a fake credit card there. Just because you do it in a non-physical area (what is Cyberspace made up of, anyway?) does not mean that it is still not a crime, and that it is still not capable of having reprecussions.

Shirley Turkle captures precisely what someone, as a user and interacter with the internet, thinks, and does while online. She acknowledges the existance of the internet being a place where people are able to forge "cyber-identities"...or get more comfortable being who they are. She also outlines something that is perhaps one of the most secure things about the internet in this day and age-that on the internet, you are anonymous. Therefore, you can do what you wish (good or bad) and you can interact with others via MUDs or the like...or you can decide exactly how people will think of you as.

The internet is a secure medium for an insecure person. It is where many people who feel unaccepted in life go as refuge, to seek friends and partners who are like them, and who understand. This is also recognized in this book.

I highly recommend anyone, either the hacker, or the suit, or the working mother, or the teenager, to pick up this book and just to start reading. It is disturbing, almost, to find that there are so many people who interact with the internet, and so many different things that they do. The globalization that comes along with the net provokes you to start rethinking many things, and questioning many others....The internet, as portrayed in this book, also helps the reader to truly examine themselves as a whole.

High Quality - A Suggested Read, April 10, 2000
Sherry Turkle is a sociologist and a clinical psychologist. Her pioneering work has been done in the realm of computer mediated human interaction. One of her most commented on books is Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. This book is a serious look at the concept of identity and how identity is shaped on the Internet and through computer mediation.

Her major topic is how humans contain self on the Internet. She also spends a great deal of time discussing relationships on the Internet. With splintered selves involved, relationships become more complex. Her research on the way women and men view online sexuality is fascinating. Anyone interested in how the young people of the very near future will discover their sexual selves would do well to read this book. While Turkle is fairly straightforward in her findings, they may terrify some readers. This is a completely new sexuality, a completely foreign way of doing things. Her view is, of course, fairly clinical, but, in the end, I think she shows an amazing affinity with the people she has worked with. Turkle is not worried about the splintering of self. On the contrary, she thinks that some of these tactics: being able to play with and discover parts of yourself that you normally don't interact with is vital to development and mental health.

Another area that Turkle tackles is Artificial Intelligence. She considers AI to be the next frontier. These AI will be interacted with as a matter of course in the coming years, according to the author. Again, this area enthralls some readers and frightens others. Turkle is excited about what AI can do in terms of promoting dialog. Turkle sees the Internet challenging notions of what it means to be alive, notions of true identity, and the idea of community.

Turkle is at her best when she explores the concept of how people view themselves online. How they splinter off bits of their personality into different entities and play with and shape those identities. I can heartily suggest this book for anyone that works with K-12 students, for it is these students that are growing up on the screen. These are the students that are discovering community outside their immediate circle at younger and younger ages. These are the students that are discovering the meaning of identity online.

4 Stars out of 5.

The continuation of a fallacy., March 22, 1999
Turkle's book is a good read, but can not be taken as authorative. She seems to have fallen into the same trap as most of the online researchers do. Turkle expresses her findings as though they come from a similar group of online people. The Internet is filled with various groups and ideologies. Cross-cultural comparison is fine, but considering everyone online as the starting point for an argument is just asking for disaster. It is because of this that Sherry and many others like her have written books that are good for a read but useless academically.

Postmodernist vagueries and mostly trivial observations, April 17, 2002
If reading postmodernist types of things turns you on, you'll like this book. The author talks a lot about how computers have moved from "modernist calculation" to "postmodernist simulation." Why there is a need to attach the modernist-postmodernist modifiers to calculation and simulation is never explained, and I suspect it is just done to give the book a tres chic intellectual veneer. As with nearly all authors who use the term, the author does not define "postmodernism" or explain what it has to do with anything in her book. Also a lot of vague talk about how "people didn't used to like to do" such and so a thing with computers but now "people like to do" such and so something other thing with computers a lot more. No data of course, that would offend the postmodernists reading the book. An important - VERY important - topic treated in a shabby manner.

Altering the self, March 30, 2000
Sherry Turkle has written an engaging and thought-provoking book about how computers and the Internet have altered our lives. Moving beyond the concept that computers are just a tool, Turkle explains to the reader how technology allows us to explore and even alter our sense of "self." The ability to interact with other netizens in a variety of virtual settings, while adopting new personalities, has given many the freedom to explore aspects of their self-identity that without the anonymity of the electronic world would be impossible. Simulation is another area that Turkle offers interesting insights into how people perceive the world around them as a result of being able to model various possibilities via a computer simulation. These simulations and other children's toys are creating a generation who are asking the question "Is it alive?" of objects that most view as nothing more than tools or toys. Overall, I found Life on the Screen to be well written and extremely thought provoking. While you may disagree with her conclusions about technology and its affect on our concept of self, one of the key aspects of this book is that it makes you think about how your life has been altered not only physically by computers but also emotionally and psychologically. A very good read.

well organized and thought provoking, May 19, 2000
Easy to read, a good introduction that is by now very necessary in learning about the two approaches to human efforts in life creation: Artifical Intelligence and Artificial Life, clearly emphasizing the latter as progressive and fitting our times as postmodern.

An important anthropology of virtual life., January 4, 1999
This is a crucial read for those who are interested in the intersections of postmodern thinking about human subjectivity, the anthropology of the online world(s), and modern psychological understandings of identity and the human mind. Turkle is balanced and insightful, humble and well-read, and provides a welcome space for the reader to come to her own insights and epiphanies. The best book I've read in several years.

Very interesting anecdotes, but no thesis, October 10, 1998
Turkle's thesis seems to be that cyberspace encourages us to explore new identities--not very controversial. However, she does provide a lot of interesting stories about life on the internet and the book is very well-written. I use her Introduction to start off my class in technology and it generates a lot of discussion.

Excellent... A Very Eclectic and Intelligent Book, January 7, 1997
Turkel's book combines the best of her research in psychoanalysis, computer technology, and sociology. A readable and thought-provoking work for academics and general public. Timely subject-matter, with a po-mo focus that will make it interesting even in a few years when the technological references will be dated. Somewhat over-emphasizing the Usenet and MUD elements of Internet, with less on the World Wide Web. Highly recommended for those interested in exploring philosophical questions related to "being" in the computer age

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