Starting a conversation about where technology is taking us…

Sherry Turkle

Sometimes people need to change their minds, especially when spurred by additional information, insight and wisdom.  But change requires courage when it requires modifying a public stance.


In April 1996 Sherry Turkle was featured on the cover of Wired magazine.  She’d become something of a celebrity among the digerati after twenty years studying the cultural impact of the personal computers and the internet at MIT.   She’d just published a book that was quite positive about online chat rooms and video games.  It was Life on the Screen that won the coveted cover on Wired.


But a 2011 book, Alone Together, was not destined to win another Wired cover by Turkle’s own assessment.


So what happened? I’m still excited by technology, but I believe … that we’re letting it take us places that we don’t want to go.


Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile communication and I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, about their plugged in lives. And what I’ve found is that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.


When I read Sherry Turkle, I’m reminded of a lesson I learned many years ago from Harry Blamires’ book, The Christian Mind.


Perhaps most of the acclaimed thinkers and prophets of our day are non-Christians.  A glance at some of the influential critiques of our culture that have made a popular impact in the last few years would suggest this view.  Many writers who have recently probed the values of our culture, scrutinized the quality of current civilization with critical and penetrating eyes, have done so from a humanistic standpoint. …


Without denying the impact of important isolated utterances, one must admit that there is no packed contemporary field of discourse in which writers are reflecting christianly on the modern world and modern man.


Blamires’ assessment still holds true—with a few notable exceptions that would include Christian thinkers like Lesslie Newbigin.  We still lack a “theology of everyday life” that provides understanding and help in engaging the various forces of our post-Christian culture.  This is true even with the emphasis on world view thinking in recent years.


In the realm of digital culture, however, we can glean significant insights from people like Sherry Turkle, in the same way Harry Blamires learned from Jacques Barzun and Vance Packard.


To see what I mean, please watch the video of Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk in February 2012.  “Connected, but alone?” is only twenty minutes long.  She believes “Technology is making a bid to redefine human connection—how we care for each other, how we care for ourselves—but it’s also giving us the opportunity to affirm our values and our direction.”


“Connected, but alone?” was presented at a TED Talk in February 2012


If you’re unable to watch the video but would like to read Sherry Turkle’s talk, click on “Show Transcript” at the bottom of the video screen here.  “Connected, but alone?” is available in 28 languages!


Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!