The woman who psychoanalyzed computer culture at MIT mostly remembers that she didn’t get invited.
From “A Critic of Technology Turns Her Gaze Inward” in Monday’s New York Times:
In the spring of 1977, when Sherry Turkle was a young professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Steve Jobs came to visit. While he toured the campus and met with her colleagues, Turkle was cleaning her apartment and worrying over the menu for the dinner she had agreed to host.
It took nearly 50 years, when she was writing her memoir, “The Empathy Diaries,” for her to realize how angry that incident made her. She was at the beginning of her career chronicling how technology influences our lives, yet wasn’t asked to join her colleagues as they spent the day with the co-founder of Apple.
“Why not me?” she said in a video interview last month. It has taken her decades to come to that question, and it reflects her desire to turn the ethnographer’s gaze inward, to examine herself the way she has long studied her subjects. That is central to her new book, she said: “Here is the practical application of what it means to have a conversation with yourself.”
Turkle, 72, is big on conversation. In her 2015 book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” she argues that talking to each other, having an old-fashioned voice-to-voice exchange, is a powerful antidote to life on screens. A licensed clinical psychologist who holds joint doctorates in psychology and sociology from Harvard, she scrutinizes what our relationship with technology reveals about us, about what we feel is missing from our lives, what we fantasize technology can supply.
My take: I first met Sherry Turkle in the early 80’s, when she was still married to Seymour Papert. I think I’ve been a little in love with her ever since.