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17 February 2016

"We Are All Hopelessly Hooked": NY Times Book Review of "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age"

"As long as software engineers are able to deliver free, addictive products directly to children, parents who are themselves compulsive users have little hope of asserting control."

Following this brief review of Shelley Turkle's book, "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age" (published in 2015) is the New York Times Book Review article.

REVIEW: Digital life has become 'a closed cycle of anxiety creation and alleviation'
by Hank Berger, United for Peace of Pierce County, 
16 February 2016.

Shelley Turkle of MIT has been studying the digital revolution for some time, and her new book, Reclaiming Conversation(2015), "presents a powerful case that a new communication revolution is degrading the quality of human relationships -- with family and friends, as well as colleagues and romantic partners," Jacob Weisberg reports in a New York Review of Booksreview.[1] -- The root of the problem, she thinks, is that "young people absorbed in their devices" are "failing . . . to develop fully independent selves." -- "Because they aren’t learning how to be alone, she contends, young people are losing their ability to empathize." -- "The thing young people never do on their smartphones is actually speak to one another." -- Weisberg concludes his review of this and three other books on a pessimistic note. -- There might be solutions to mitigate the effects Turkle and others describe, Weisberg suggests, but "Aspirations for humanistic digital design have been overwhelmed so far by the imperatives of the startup economy. -- As long as software engineers are able to deliver free, addictive products directly to children, parents who are themselves compulsive users have little hope of asserting control. -- 

 We can’t defend ourselves against the disciples of captology by asking nicely for less enticing slot machines." -- COMMENT: As is usual in the New York Review Books, this review never considers the deeper insights of radical theory. -- The current mutation of culture began not with digital machines, but with the supremacy of the image that came first through advertising, film, and television. -- Information technology is but an intensification and extension of the process. -- The best analysis of this is still Guy Debord's classic The Society of the Spectacle (1967). -- According to Debord (1931-1994), "All that once was directly lived has become mere representation." -- He argued that the history of social life should be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into appearing." -- The problems these books address will not be remedied, because they are, in fact, desired outcomes. -- This is the "historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life." -- In other words, social media are achieving the commodification of private life....
1.

WE ARE ALL HOPELESSLY HOOKED
by Jacob Weisberg, New York Review of Books, February 26, 2016

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/02/25/we-are-hopelessly-hooked/

[Review of Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by (Penguin, 2015); Sherry Turkle,Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (Basic Books, 2011); Joseph M. Reagle Jr.,Reading the Comments: Likers, Haters, and Manipulators at the Bottom of the Web (MIT Press, 2015); and Nir Eyal & Ryan Hoover, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (Portfolio, 2014).]

“As smoking gives us something to do with our hands when we aren’t using them, *Time* gives us something to do with our minds when we aren’t thinking,” Dwight Macdonald wrote in 1957. With smartphones, the issue never arises. Hands and mind are continuously occupied texting, e-mailing, liking, tweeting, watching YouTube videos, and playing Candy Crush.

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