Sherry Turkle: ”How Computers Changed The Way We Think” Essay Examples
According to Turkle, in what ways do computers change the ways we think?
Computers have changed people’s understanding of what we are. Today, people think of their brains as sophisticated computers. It changes the way people see themselves and their identities; in addition, computers have changed the way humans see privacy. Everything is available for free consumption on the Internet, and people are exposing more of their private lives than ever before on social media and the Internet as a whole.
What does Turkle mean by “the instrumental and subjective sides of nascent computer culture?” What examples of these two sides does she offer?
In this part of her article, Turkle is addressing the ways that computers are changing people, not the ways that people are developing technologies. She claims that computers have changed the ways that people interact with the world around them, because computers have become companies, pets, and companions for people. As humanity develops technologies, technologies also change humanity.
What are some of the challenges facing the “sociotechnical culture” Turkle says we are entering?
Some of the challenges of this new culture include questions of privacy—how much privacy can a modern individual truly expect, if he or she puts all his or her information on social media? In addition, there are questions of virtual versus actual reality. People are more engaged in the virtual world than ever before, and there are problems regarding the line between virtual reality and actual reality. Many people get lost in virtual reality, because in many ways, it is alluring and not all that distinct from actual reality.
What is Turkle’s thesis, and where does she state it?
Turkle’s thesis is very succinct, and it is interwoven throughout the text. However, she states it explicitly at the end of the text: “We are all computer people now.” This does not mean that we have all become “nerds” or “geeks,” but that all of our lives have become intertwined with technology, and that technology has shaped our growth as a species in ways that we are only now beginning to understand.
How does Turkle use classification to advance her thesis and organize the essay? Where does she employ process and causal analysis?
Turkle splits her article into a number of sections, each section addressing one way in which computers have affected people’s lives. She gives a brief introduction into the history of the computer, and how it affected people in the early years; she also introduces the hopes that people had for the technological revolution. In each section, she processes the technological advancements and the procedures that affect humanity; in each subsection, she clearly lays bare her perception of the cause and effect sequences that lead to psychological changes in computer users.
What comparative points does the writer draw between actual and virtual reality?
Turkle states, quite correctly, that current technologies allow thinkers to develop structures and scientific thought through simulations that have not been available before. Virtual reality via simulation is a way to experience actual reality in many different ways. However, she also notes that virtual reality allows the actors and creators of that reality to hide their messages with ease, and that it is extremely easy to become lost in virtual reality.
The issue of privacy on the Internet is going to be one of the most important issues in the coming years. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without social media, and people are putting more and more of their personal information online. Before the introduction of Facebook, it was rare to see people willing to post their personal information for all to see; Facebook changed that, however, and the integration of smartphone technologies into social media have also made it harder to hide than ever. There are millions of Facebook users around the world, and it is undoubtedly a powerful tool. However, once something is posted on the Internet, it is almost impossible to make it disappear.
Children growing up in the current technological environment are used to interacting with social media. It is easy for children to normalize this kind of reality into their world—they have never experienced anything else, and the Internet seems very non-threatening. However, there are very real privacy concerns, and many children are mostly unaware of the threats that could lurk on the Internet. Even if they know that there are issues with privacy and predators, childhood psychology makes children feel invincible, as though it could never happen to them.
Even adults are fighting for their right to privacy on the Internet. The European Union has recently passed rules regarding an individual’s right “to be forgotten,” which require search engines to delete information about people under certain circumstances. However, it seems likely that once information is presented to the Internet—whether it is true or not—it will not disappear easily. This new reality is one that everyone must begin to consider.
Turkle, Sherry. 'How Computers Change The Way We Think'. The Chronicle of Higher Education50.21 (2004): B26. Print.