Unexpected ways that individuals adapt technology to reclaim what matters to them, from working through conflict with smart lights to celebrating gender transition with selfies.
We have been warned about the psychological perils of technology: distraction, difficulty empathizing, and loss of the ability (or desire) to carry on a conversation. But our devices and data are woven into our lives. We can't simply reject them. Instead, Margaret Morris argues, we need to adapt technology creatively to our needs and values. In Left to Our Own Devices , Morris offers examples of individuals applying technologies in unexpected waysuses that go beyond those intended by developers and designers. Morris examines these kinds of personalized life hacks, chronicling the ways that people have adapted technology to strengthen social connection, enhance well-being, and affirm identity.
Morris, a clinical psychologist and app creator, shows how people really use technology, drawing on interviews she has conducted as well as computer science and psychology research. She describes how a couple used smart lights to work through conflict; how a woman persuaded herself to eat healthier foods when her photographs of salads garnered “likes” on social media; how a trans woman celebrated her transition with selfies; and how, through augmented reality, a woman changed the way she saw her cancer and herself. These and the many other “off-label” adaptations described by Morris cast technology not just as a temptation that we struggle to resist but as a potential ally as we try to take care of ourselves and others. The stories Morris tells invite us to be more intentional and creative when left to our own devices.
About the Author
Margaret E. Morris is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and creator of technologies to support well-being. A Senior Research Scientist at Intel from 2002 to 2016, she has conducted User Experience research at Amazon and is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington.
Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and Founder and Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A psychoanalytically trained sociologist and psychologist, she is the author of The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit (Twentieth Anniversary Edition, MIT Press), Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud's French Revolution. She is the editor of Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, Falling for Science: Objects in Mind, and The Inner History of Devices, all three published by the MIT Press.
Table of Contents
Foreword Sherry Turkle ix
1 The Meaning of Light 1
2 Conversational Catalysts 15
3 Meaningful Measures 35
4 Remembering and Forgetting 51
5 Beyond the Hookup 69
6 Picturing Ourselves 83
7 Micro Connections 101
8 Therapy, Virtually 111
What People are Saying About This
Everyone's eager to chide you for how you use devices like smartphones. Instead of wagging a finger, Margaret Morris offers a way to form alliances with technology to make your devices a part of you and your life, rather than an external force acting upon themIan Bogost, Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing, Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology