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

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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.

In a book informed by the most current knowledge of computers and a thorough grounding in psychoanalytic theory and philosophy, the author of The Second Self revisits the dramatic changes in our psychological selves and the ways of learning and thinking wrought by the newest advances of the computer revolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Nov.)
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684833484
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,466,586
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Identity in the Age of the Internet...9
I. The Seductions of the Interface
1. A Tale of Two Aesthetics...29
2. The Triumph of Tinkering..50

II. Of Dreams and Beasts
3. Making a Pass at a Robot...77
4. Taking Things at Interface Value...102
5. The Quality of Emergence...125
6. Artificial Life as the New Frontier...149

III. On the Internet
7. Aspects of the Self...177
8. TinySex and Gender Trouble...210
9. Virtuality and Its Discontents...233
10. Identity Crisis...255

A Note on Method: The Inner History of Technology...321

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