Connected, But Alone [Ted Talk]

Connected, But Alone [Ted Talk]

  “I’m still excited by technology,“ says Sherry Turkle in her TED talk, “but I believe, and I’m here to make the case, that we’re letting it take us places that we don’t want to go.” Turkle is a psychologist and author most recently of the book, Alone Together. Over the past 15 years, I’ve studied technologies of mobile communication and I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, young and old, about their plugged in lives. And what I’ve found is that our little devices, those little devices in our pockets, are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are. Some of the things we do now with our devices are things that, only a few years ago, we would have found odd or disturbing, but they’ve quickly come to seem familiar, just how we do things. So just to take some quick examples: People text or do email during corporate board meetings. They text and shop and go on Facebook during classes, during presentations, actually during all meetings. People talk to me about the important new skill of making eye contact while you’re texting… Parents text and do email at breakfast and at dinner while their children complain about not having their parents’ full attention. But then these same children deny each other their full attention.” The Allure Of Connecting When You Want, How You Want, With Whom You Want Why does this matter? It matters to me because I think we’re setting ourselves up for trouble — trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in...
How Weak Is The Strongest Link?

How Weak Is The Strongest Link?

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link”… I am teaching hundreds of students from all over the world, age 17-70.. all walks of life, various educational backgrounds: poorly educated, well educated, super educated and over-educated. Great folks, no matter the character, race, attitude, beliefs… There are many things that have fascinated me throughout the years about my students, but there are two that surprise me the most for their contradicting nature. On the one hand, all these great people, who learned all the “right” things (values) at home and in school, and generally in their respective societies, quickly agree that it’s thrilling to be together in such a colorful, culturally diverse environment and enjoy this mutual sharing, enriching each other with their unique flavors and vibe. On the other, how often I hear them bragging about their national soccer team – “we are the best,” or “she is the greatest singer in the world” (some girl from their native country), or “we have the best coffee”… And when they return to their ethnic “clicks,” the most entertaining thing to do after a dinner party is to discuss other “tribes” for how “stupid and arrogant” they are, and how, by comparison, “we” are by far superior. And it doesn’t matter that a soccer team is only a couple dozen players out of the entire nation, that a singer’s voice is, just like that coffee’s flavor, is a matter of taste. I sometimes ask my students “What’s in it for you to brag about someone you have never met as if they are you closest family? Does anybody...
The Movie Prometheus Meets Hurricane Sandy

The Movie Prometheus Meets Hurricane Sandy

The recent hurricane causing havoc in New Jersey, New York and the rest of the East Coast of the US generated significant media interest, and also ignited discussions about human responsibility, direct or indirect involvement in natural catastrophes and weather pattern changes. The relatively recently released film Prometheus also tries to find answers to questions on the relationship in between humanity and the natural environment. Is it possible to draw conclusions, parallels between the two? The Movie: Prometheus In the film Prometheus a group of scientists, bankrolled by a dying billionaire trying to find answers to eternity, trace the origins of prototype humanoids to a faraway planet, which was identified from thousands of years old cave wall paintings from many different cultures. The scientists suspect that these prototype humanoids “engineered” the present humanity, and are anxious to meet them to get answers to questions like “What is the purpose of life?” “How can we make life better?” and so on. As they arrive to the suspected location they truly find a base where the prototype humanoids are stationed, but they find that almost all died with signs of a horrible and violent death. They also find huge quantities of a biological weapons, used to colonize planets by wiping them clean first and then terraforming on them later. But what comes to light is that the biological weapon as a result of accident was released on themselves causing their violent demise. There are also signs that before their unexpected end the prototype humanoids were ready to head for the Earth again, planning to wipe it clean and start again. Indeed as soon...