Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other 
by Sherry Turkle

Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void, but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down.

Alone Together is the result of MIT technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen-year exploration of our lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of children and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly. But it is also a story of hope, for even in the places where digital saturation is greatest, there are people—especially the young—who are asking the hard questions about costs, about checks and balances, about returning to what is most sustaining about direct human connection. At the threshold of what Turkle calls “the robotic moment,” our devices prompt us to recall that we have human purposes and, perhaps, to rediscover what they are.


Evocative Objects: Things We Think With 
edited and with an introduction by Sherry Turkle
FALL 2007
For Sherry Turkle, "We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with." Objects carry ideas and emotions of startling intensity as companions to our emotional lives, as provocations to thought, as a way to understand why we do what we do. The notion of evocative objects underscores this inseparability of thought and feeling. In this collection, writings by scientists, humanists, artists, and designers trace the power of everyday things.

Whether it's a student's beloved 1964 Ford Falcon left behind for a station wagon and motherhood, or a cello that inspires a meditation on fatherhood, the intimate, everyday objects in this collection are used to reflect on larger themes-- the role of objects in design and play, discipline and desire, history and exchange, mourning and memory, transition and passage, meditation and new vision. Two essays by Sherry Turkle invite us to look more closely at the everyday objects of our lives, the familiar objects that drive our routines, hold our affections, and open out our world in unexpected ways.

Essays by: Julian Beinart, Matthew Belmonte, Joseph Cevetello, Robert P. Crease, Olivia Dasté, Glorianna Davenport, Judith Donath, Michael M. J. Fischer, Howard Gardner, Tracy Gleason, Nathan Greenslit, Stefan Helmreich, Michelle Hlubinka, Henry Jenkins, Caroline A. Jones, Evelyn Fox Keller, Tod Machover, Susannah Mandel, David Mann, Irene Castle McLaughlin, Eden Medina, Jeffrey Mifflin, William J. Mitchell, David Mitten, Annalee Newitz, Trevor Pinch, Susan Pollak, Mitchel Resnick, Nancy Rosenblum, Susan Spilecki, Carol Strohecker, Susan Rubin Suleiman, Sherry Turkle, Gail Wight, Susan Yee


Falling for Science: Objects in Mind
edited and with an introduction by Sherry Turkle
This is a book about science, technology, and love.  In these collected essays, distinguished scientists, engineers, and designers as well as twenty-five years of MIT students describe an object from childhood that led them to the inner world of interests, obsessions, and the often lifelong passions of their "scientific" self.

The senior scientists’ essays trace the arc of a life: the gears of a toy car introduce the chain of cause and effect to artificial intelligence pioneer Seymour Papert; microscopes disclose the mystery of how things work to MIT President and neuroanatomist Susan Hockfield; architect Moshe Safdie describes how his boyhood fascination with steps, terraces, and the wax hexagons of beehives lead him to a life immersed in the complexities of design.

The student essays tell stories that echo these narratives: plastic eggs in an Easter basket reveal the power of centripetal force; experiments with baking illuminate the geology of planets; LEGO bricks model worlds, carefully engineered and colonized. In two essays that frame the collection, Turkle tells a story of inspiration and connection through objects that is often neglected in standard science education and in our preoccupation with the virtual.

All of these voices – students and mentors – testify to the power of objects to awaken and inform young scientific minds. A truth that is simple, intuitive, and easily overlooked.

Essays by: Susan Hockfield, Donald Ingber, Alan Kay, Sarah Kuhn, Donald Norman, Seymour Papert, Rosalind Picard, Moshe Safdie and MIT students from 1979 to the present.


The Inner History of Devices
edited and with an introduction by Sherry Turkle
FALL 2008
This volume brings together three traditions of listening – memoir, clinical writing, and fieldwork or ethnography – in essays that consider the ways in which technologies enter our lives. Each essay illuminates the subjective side of the technological experience, how what we have built is woven into our ways of seeing and being in the world.  Together they enable us to read the inner history of devices.

Such technologies as defibrillators, video games, medical simulations, and prosthetic eyes change images of self as well as cultural and social practices.  Each essay deepens our understanding of technology and self; each dramatizes the power of its genre to do so. 

An essay by Sherry Turkle argues for the centrality of memoir and clinical materials in the training of ethnographers, indeed for an “intimate ethnography” of scientific and technical endeavors. 

Essays by Alicia Kestrell Verlager, E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman, Nicholas A. Knouf, Orit Kuritsky-Fox, John Hamilton, Marsha H. Levy-Warren, Kimberlyn Leary, Anne Pollock, Rachel Prentice, Anita Chan, and Aslihan Sanal.


Simulation and Its Discontents
by Sherry Turkle (with additional essays by William J. Clancey, Stefan Helmreich, Yanni A. Loukissas, and Natasha Myers)

Simulation and visualization technologies have become fundamental tools in science, engineering, and design.  These tools construct new ways of knowing and alter the nature of professional identity.  This collection examines the tradeoffs when these new tools encourage new epistemologies.  Issues discussed include how simulation affects the cognitive and affective distance from objects of study, the impact of “black-boxing” on science, engineering, and design, the reallocation of expertise between professionals and technicians, and the conflicts among generations about the appropriate use of simulation and visualization.




Cell Phones 
(Sherry Turkle, Principal Investigator)

Text to follow.


Audible Identities: How Musicians and Fans Co-Create Online Identities 
(Nate Greenslit, Principal Investigator)

In the wake of recent changes in the recording industry, musicians find themselves having to generate and perform online identities and engender online relationships with fans.  In just a few years, the Internet has transformed music-making and audience participation.  Gone is the elusive rock star model, replaced by everyday, seemingly intimate contact.  The modes of online relationships run the gamut from Twittering to blogging to online concerts, all of which acknowledge and recruit fan participation in novel ways.  "Audible Identities" seeks to understand how, in this new transmedia culture, musicians and fans co-create and negotiate images, identities, and cultural and personal meanings. 


Copyright © 2003 MIT Initiative on Technology and Self