I’ve just got one week’s reading and discussion in, but I am enjoying the reading group that Ben Rimes has organized as Book CLub 106 (yes the connection to ds106 may be a thread, but it works for me!).

I do not think I have ever been part of any kind of book club… oh wait, there was the one that Chris Lott organized a few years back around reading Joyce’s Dubliners.. oh crap that was on Posterous which twitter so nicely nuked. It can be found in the Internet Archive.

I digress (as usual).

The current book is Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other — this was voted on, and I like the choice because its going to get some disagreement and discussion going. I go in expecting to bristle and negate what I might expect as pining for “the good old days when people sat around and had real intellectual conversations about Milton.”

I had a moment of hesitation on ordering the book from Amazon- the irony of buying a kindle version I could read on my iPad was not lost on me. But I got a good old fashioned PAPER one that I can HIGHLIGHT in with a PEN.

But I want to be open to Turkle’s ideas- after all she has 3 decades of research, and has interviewed and observed thousands of people.

I’m not ready to be discussion it yet (though the first few chapters on robots and toys is insightful in some ways because I’ve not been around any of the things like Furby, AIBO, etc).

I like Ben’s use of Google Moderator to collect and rank questions before the weekly hangout discussions (actually first time I have seen Moderator in action) (I would not place any decent size bets on how long Google will let such a valuable tool sit around as hardly anyone uses it).

Being able to discuss this in a Google Hangout works nicely too. Damn that technology, it is so isolating. It is giving me an experience not otherwise possible with people like Ben (who lives far away).

Being being around ds106 makes me want to mess with her MacGuffin a little, so I mocked up this alt title in a book cover– because being alone even in a crowd is something that is not new, and cannot be put at the feet of technology to blame…

See the cover in it's full glory, click that pic willya?

See the cover in it’s full glory, click that pic willya?

Mocking it was easy, as the title font is or is close enough to Helvetica. The images were scrounged from the google (lazy me, I forgot to track them for giving proper credit) (sue me).

I can’t help but poke a bit about the nostalgia for a pre-technology social past that may not be all so glorious. I got thinking about my teen years growing up, our family together time at dinner was us eating at a table all watching TV in the corner- All in the Family or M*A*S*H but it was not all that super conversational (I watched ALOT of TV as a kid, a lot). I may not remember it well, and actually it was quite fine with me and my folks, and of course is not as parallel to the three of us at a table all phone poking our status updates.

I just find the generalizations a bit sweeping and little credit given for human nature to adapt and evolve as it always has done.

But its early in the book (the Turkle one).

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Like me, I’ guessing you’d rather blog than read, rather create than consume. You consumed a lot of TV as a kid, yet you’re a creative adult. I was raised in a pre-TV hunter-gatherer culture, yet I’m a creative adult. Obviouly there’s something else going on other than comparative media saturation levels of childhood.

    I always take Turkle with a grain of salt, but she’s such a good arguer that I always make my students read and discuss an article by her.

  2. Totally digging the complete redesign you did for this. Not just the images, but the tag-line as well “we were good at isolating each other even before technology”. I think it’s safe to assume that most people see reading and writing as no longer being a form of technology that isolates us, and yet it does on an almost pervasive influence; “book worms” are the anti-social individuals of the reading world, and letters allowed us to confront our feelings and others without having to subject ourselves to the reality of their presence.

    I’m really digging this book, and excited that you’re reading along, Alan!

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