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CNN.com Columns

May 03, 2006

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search

Link: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search.

Google Print: Hey! I found myself in Ray Kurzweil's new book, "The Singularity is Near." That's cool, to  show up in the book of an author I really enjoy reading.

Might as well record the entire citation. However, I have a bone to pick here. Dude!  That's a section where I quoted a bit from Sherry Turkle's book "Life on the Screen." But the quotation uses elipses so you can't tell which are my words and which come from Turkle.

I used to make all my first-year composition students read the first two chapters of "Life on the Screen" (this quotation comes from the beginning of the book).

It's my favorite line in Turkle's book (copied it here below as well, if anyone wants to discuss it, my version, and Kurzweil's with the elipses).  In the CNN.com column, I couldn't record the page number of the Turkle quotation, but I can put it in here. You can find that bit in "Life on the Screen" at the bottom of page 13.

I also value Turkle's assessment of two dichotomies of competing cultures (aesthetics?) in computer science (and engineering, and many other fields) of "tinkering" vs. "top-down planning," as well as what she calls in her introduction "a culture of calculation" vs "a culture of simulation."

Those ideas are valuable as a heuristic mainly, as overly simplistic dichotomies maybe, like Robert Pirsig talks about in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," the "classic" and "romantic" understanding of motorcycles, surface romance vs. the guts of a finely tuned engine. But it gives a person something to think about. One of these days I'm going to insert that Pirsig quotation into this blog as a "Seminal Text." I used to copy it up as a handout for the gifted and talented students when I taught critical thinking at Arkansas Governor's School.

The other essential Turkle book I own is "The Second Self."

Here's the bit from my CNN.com column Kurzweil uses:

[...]

How young people live

A student may have a textbook open. The television is on with sound off (perhaps with the CNN Headline News modular screen). They've got music on headphones. On a laptop hooked in to the Internet there's a homework window, along with e-mail and instant messaging in the background. The Web has become an essential part of checking facts and figures for the homework (not to mention plagiarizing with copy and paste). On top of that, the student may field phone calls or talk with a roommate.

One of the most striking observations in Turkle's findings was a quote from one multi-tasking student who preferred the online world to the face-to-face world. "Real life," he said, "is just one more window."

College students are the leading edge in adapting to this new goldfish bowl, these new multi-tasking sense ratios. Some of us will hold on to the old ways by our fingernails, afraid of losing a coherent self. Others will plunge into the new collective nerve center, our various selves loosely joined in a partial free-fall at all times.

[...]

Kurzweil's bib citation in the book:

Christine Boese, "The Screen-Age: Our Brains in our Laptops," CNN.com, August 2, 2004.  http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/01/26/hln.hot.buzz.silicon.brain/index.html.

Link: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend... - Google Book Search.

Now part of [my consciousness] lives on the Internet and seems to stay there all the time.... A student may have a textbook open. The television is on with the sound off.... They've got music on headphones... there's a homework window, along with email and instant messaging.... One multi-tasking student prefers the online world to the face-to-face world. "Real life," he said, "is just one more window.
---Christine Boese, reporting on findings by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle.

And here's the bib for Kurzweil's book:

Kurzweil, R. (2005) The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Viking.

May 3, 2006 in Citations, CNN.com Columns, Journalism, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack