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"A beautiful book... an instant classic of the genre." --Dwight Garner, New York Times - A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice MIT psychologist and bestselling author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together, Sherry Turkle's intimate memoir of love and work For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she "A beautiful book... an instant classic of the genre." --Dwight Garner, New York Times - A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice MIT psychologist and bestselling author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together, Sherry Turkle's intimate memoir of love and work For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of uncharted challenges. Turkle has spent a career composing an intimate ethnography of our digital world; now, marked by insight, humility, and compassion, we have her own. In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics. Growing up in postwar Brooklyn, Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries. She mastered the codes that governed her mother's secretive life. She learned never to ask about her absent scientist father--and never to use his name, her name. Before empathy became a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival. Turkle's intellect and curiosity brought her to worlds on the threshold of change. She learned friendship at a Harvard-Radcliffe on the cusp of coeducation during the antiwar movement, she mourned the loss of her mother in Paris as students returned from the 1968 barricades, and she followed her ambition while fighting for her place as a woman and a humanist at MIT. There, Turkle found turbulent love and chronicled the wonders of the new computer culture, even as she warned of its threat to our most essential human connections. The Empathy Diaries captures all this in rich detail--and offers a master class in finding meaning through a life's work.


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"A beautiful book... an instant classic of the genre." --Dwight Garner, New York Times - A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice MIT psychologist and bestselling author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together, Sherry Turkle's intimate memoir of love and work For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she "A beautiful book... an instant classic of the genre." --Dwight Garner, New York Times - A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice MIT psychologist and bestselling author of Reclaiming Conversation and Alone Together, Sherry Turkle's intimate memoir of love and work For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of uncharted challenges. Turkle has spent a career composing an intimate ethnography of our digital world; now, marked by insight, humility, and compassion, we have her own. In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics. Growing up in postwar Brooklyn, Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries. She mastered the codes that governed her mother's secretive life. She learned never to ask about her absent scientist father--and never to use his name, her name. Before empathy became a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival. Turkle's intellect and curiosity brought her to worlds on the threshold of change. She learned friendship at a Harvard-Radcliffe on the cusp of coeducation during the antiwar movement, she mourned the loss of her mother in Paris as students returned from the 1968 barricades, and she followed her ambition while fighting for her place as a woman and a humanist at MIT. There, Turkle found turbulent love and chronicled the wonders of the new computer culture, even as she warned of its threat to our most essential human connections. The Empathy Diaries captures all this in rich detail--and offers a master class in finding meaning through a life's work.

30 review for The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    It was a bit academic for me, but I enjoyed the story of her life.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This is a very interesting book. Turkle has been at MIT almost her whole career. She is something of an outsider because she is an ethnographer rather than a data scientist. She studies the intersection of technology and empathy (or what makes humans unique from machines). The book is also a memoir and Turkle's family background is, of course, wound up in her professional ideas. In the first half of the book, Turkle lays all the family secrets on the line and the reader feels that she really und This is a very interesting book. Turkle has been at MIT almost her whole career. She is something of an outsider because she is an ethnographer rather than a data scientist. She studies the intersection of technology and empathy (or what makes humans unique from machines). The book is also a memoir and Turkle's family background is, of course, wound up in her professional ideas. In the first half of the book, Turkle lays all the family secrets on the line and the reader feels that she really understands herself and wants to share her complete story. But then, abruptly, we find out she has a daughter from a second marriage which she barely mentions. Was she not ready to share the whole story? There are lots of fascinating insights into the kind of people who were on the cutting edge of computer technology at MIT (her first husband, 20 years her senior, was one of them.) But Turkle's experiences plus what we now know about the Media Lab at MIT, paint a different picture. Some of them were pretty nutty and unethical. Turkle was initially denied tenure but she fought back and this was reversed. I was left with mixed feelings about the quality of her scholarship, and the defense of her theories at the end of the book seem a little out of place. But the book is worth a read. It is full of great stories -- like the time Steve Jobs visited MIT and Turkle was tasked with the dinner preparations. He ate nothing saying it "was the wrong kind of vegetarian." Turkle says it took her years to ask herself why she was fixing dinner rather than being in the meetings with Jobs and all the other faculty.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    A thoughtful, intimate memoir by the renowned MIT professor and writer on technology and society. I would have enjoyed the inclusion of more of her academic work, but there was lots to enjoy nonetheless. Turkle’s humanistic focus on technology and her reframing of AI as artificial intimacy make this wonderful companion reading for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barry Dank

    A great read. She says she writes intimate ethnographies and calls this book a memoir, but given her framework it is an intimate ethnography/memoir. It starts with her growing up in Jewish Brooklyn, in a family in which closeness was structured by closely held secrets, secrets which for her ultimately dealt with identity, her identity. If I were to characterize her family upbringing it would be one of a search for empathy, a search for what is going on here, of her dealing with puzzles, enigmas, A great read. She says she writes intimate ethnographies and calls this book a memoir, but given her framework it is an intimate ethnography/memoir. It starts with her growing up in Jewish Brooklyn, in a family in which closeness was structured by closely held secrets, secrets which for her ultimately dealt with identity, her identity. If I were to characterize her family upbringing it would be one of a search for empathy, a search for what is going on here, of her dealing with puzzles, enigmas, of truly wanting to understand herself and others. It is her family background which launched her life long intellectual/emotional quest leading her to Paris to Radcliffe to Harvard to MIT, and to embracing and marrying and divorcing a computer genius Seymour. Seymour, 20 years her senior, a father figure who valued intellect more than empathy, who valued kindness as an afterthought. For Seymour, brilliance trumped everything, it was the only thing that counted, and he used his brilliance to manipulate everyone, everything, including Sherry. She ultimately did understand Seymour as being just like her father, objectifying her, treating her as an experiment until the experiment was abandoned or it was over. Sherry sought empathy, but she went to all the wrong places. As she states, it was not to be found behind the computer screen, but as she did not state but implied it was not to be found amongst geniuses and their territories at MIT and Harvard, not among the comp tech intellectual elite. I have spent much time with an array of geniuses because I wanted to learn from them, but love them or be loved by them, no way. Their emotional shallowness prevented it. What she seemed to not fully understand is that empathy would not be found at Harvard and MIT amongst the powers that be. MIT wanted to cast her away, no tenure; she did get it, but then most likely had to deal with faculty as so called colleagues who had wanted to get rid of her; yes, she had students, but her faculty so-called colleagues stayed and she stayed with them. What the author never tells us is that had a choice to leave MIT with tenure and choose a univ where there was an empathetic environment. But she did not to this. Why? She could not give up being part of an intellectual elite, a high status/prestige univ? Or was it that she could not give up the excitement of the brilliant for empathy and nurturance. But she did seek a new husband and embrace motherhood. However, she does not write enough about this for the reader to embrace how she made the transition, and how much of a transition it was for her. Did having a new husband, becoming a mother, reflect her going back to her roots, I am not sure. However, if she also became a faculty member at Brooklyn College then I would have been quite sure.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    Technology makes us forget what we know about life. -- The Empathy DiariesFocusing especially on children, Sherry Turkle has been a pioneer in investigating the relationship between people and computers. Her 1984 book The Second Self was well received by the public, but as Turkle recounts in The Empathy Diaries, it did not do much to help her tenure case at MIT. Her colleagues criticized her research as insufficiently rigorous, lacking in experimental data, and not seriously academic because it Technology makes us forget what we know about life. -- The Empathy DiariesFocusing especially on children, Sherry Turkle has been a pioneer in investigating the relationship between people and computers. Her 1984 book The Second Self was well received by the public, but as Turkle recounts in The Empathy Diaries, it did not do much to help her tenure case at MIT. Her colleagues criticized her research as insufficiently rigorous, lacking in experimental data, and not seriously academic because it was published by Simon & Schuster rather than by an academic press. Although Turkle was initially denied tenure, she appealed the decision, which was subsequently reversed. As a woman researching human-computer interaction, and placed at an institution long dominated by men, Turkle has fought more than her her share of academic battles, and her skepticism about the human costs of technological immersion has not always endeared her to others. Her new book is forthright in chronicling those issues, as well as revealing some rather embarrassing family secrets. Ironically, its title does not fully announce its content, since two of the most important people in it -- her long-absent biological father (Charlie Zimmerman), and her first husband (Seymour Papert) -- seem virtually incapable of empathy. When Turkle eventually located Charlie, she discovered that he had used her as a child-subject in some rather appalling psychological experiments. And it's surprising that Turkle was able to endure ten years with Papert, who was initially dishonest about his past marriages, and who more than once suddenly remembered that he was due at a conference on another continent, leaving his wife to host a dinner party at which he then failed to appear. For Papert, being regarded as brilliant could apparently be considered an excuse for terrible behavior. (Another notable example is Steve Jobs, who gets a cameo in this account.) I suppose it's impossible to compose a memoir that's entirely devoid of self-aggrandizement; however, Turkle's honest depiction of her own vulnerabilities and failings serves as a counterbalance to that tendency. The Empathy Diaries is in part an intellectual autobiography, so it naturally includes extended summaries of Turkle's research career, beginning with Jacques Lacan. But this seems likely to curtail its appeal. The book ends rather abruptly. Having devoted considerable space to describing her chaotic first marriage to Seymour Papert, Turkle dispatches her decade-long second marriage in just two sentences. At that point, she seems mainly interested in drawing out conclusions from her research, which is what her Epilogue accomplishes. Sherry Turkle is clearly a bright, sophisticated, and interesting woman, and The Empathy Diaries is receiving a lot of acclaim. But when a book like this one is released with great fanfare and gushing reviews, a letdown of some readers can only be expected. I confess to being one of them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sid Groeneman

    Trained in non-experimental psychology and a proponent of psychoanalysis, Author Sherry Turkle is a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with many academic and non-academic accolades to her credit (e.g., being selected as Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine). Her ethnographic research followed the risky path of challenging the unquestioned societal benefits of technology at one of the nation’s centers of technological innovation (M Trained in non-experimental psychology and a proponent of psychoanalysis, Author Sherry Turkle is a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with many academic and non-academic accolades to her credit (e.g., being selected as Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine). Her ethnographic research followed the risky path of challenging the unquestioned societal benefits of technology at one of the nation’s centers of technological innovation (MIT). Her research/writing and public speaking has focused on how the use of modern computers and computer driven games can have dehumanizing effects, especially but not exclusively on children. The latter third of the book mostly traces her academic career, documenting how she faced and overcame gender and research methodology discrimination at an institution dominated by male oriented hard science. Some of iconic figures of 1970s-80s computing enter the story—Marvin Minsky, Nicholas Negroponte, Steven Jobs—and Seymour Papert, with whom Turkle shared a troubled temporary marriage. Interwoven with the narrative of Turkle’s research and academic life is her highly introspective life story, as might be expected from someone personally and professionally immersed in psychotherapy. And an interesting history indeed she recounts, starting with unusual twists and turns within her working-class Jewish family in post-war Brooklyn. In the first third of “The Empathy Diaries,” Turkle describes how she navigates her parents’ early divorce and conflict with her step-father. The middle third details her college and graduate school years at Radcliffe, the University of Chicago, and Harvard, including a period of study in France. Both as an unusually personal life story and a serious examination of the mixed impact of modern computing, “The Empathy Diaries” does not disappoint.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Phi Beta Kappa Authors

    Sherry Turkle ΦBK, Harvard University, 1970 Author From the publisher: For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of uncharted challenges. Turkle has spent a career composing an intimate ethnography of our digital world; now, marked by insight, humility, and compassion, we have her own. In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbr Sherry Turkle ΦBK, Harvard University, 1970 Author From the publisher: For decades, Sherry Turkle has shown how we remake ourselves in the mirror of our machines. Here, she illuminates our present search for authentic connection in a time of uncharted challenges. Turkle has spent a career composing an intimate ethnography of our digital world; now, marked by insight, humility, and compassion, we have her own. In this vivid and poignant narrative, Turkle ties together her coming-of-age and her pathbreaking research on technology, empathy, and ethics. Growing up in postwar Brooklyn, Turkle searched for clues to her identity in a house filled with mysteries. She mastered the codes that governed her mother's secretive life. She learned never to ask about her absent scientist father--and never to use his name, her name. Before empathy became a way to find connection, it was her strategy for survival. Turkle's intellect and curiosity brought her to worlds on the threshold of change. She learned friendship at a Harvard-Radcliffe on the cusp of coeducation during the antiwar movement, she mourned the loss of her mother in Paris as students returned from the 1968 barricades, and she followed her ambition while fighting for her place as a woman and a humanist at MIT. There, Turkle found turbulent love and chronicled the wonders of the new computer culture, even as she warned of its threat to our most essential human connections. The Empathy Diaries captures all this in rich detail--and offers a master class in finding meaning through a life's work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Flora Crew

    I had read some of her work, and knew she was around my age. I sent off for the book before it was released. I was supposed to get it by UPS but ended up having to go pick it up at the ups outlet near where I live. I started reading it when I got up yesterday. I was feeling somewhat envious of her academic life until I got to the part where her mother died in 1968, the year I got married. I had to put the book down for awhile. It was very sad. It made me glad I had my mother until 1982. I cried a I had read some of her work, and knew she was around my age. I sent off for the book before it was released. I was supposed to get it by UPS but ended up having to go pick it up at the ups outlet near where I live. I started reading it when I got up yesterday. I was feeling somewhat envious of her academic life until I got to the part where her mother died in 1968, the year I got married. I had to put the book down for awhile. It was very sad. It made me glad I had my mother until 1982. I cried a lot when she talked about the death of her relatives, starting with her mother's death. It was really an intense reading for me. I had an uncle who was an experimental psychologist, and I know he also did experiments on me though not to the extreme that her real father did on her. There was so much in the book I identified with. I was extremely impressed with the breadth of her reading. I have tried to read Lacan at various times or summaries of his thoughts by various authors. I have read some of Freud and other psychoanalytic writers. I had heard of the 65 but did not know too much about it. It was really a delightful experience to read the book although it was painful to read at times.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daphne Tebbe

    I really enjoyed this book. I remember reading Sherry Turkle's book "The Second Self" while I was in college in the '80s. I believe it was in a class on artificial intelligence, which at the time was completely foreign and frankly seemed ridiculous to me. Little did I know how groundbreaking she was in her field, and how forward thinking my professor must have been to assign this book published by (gasp!) Simon & Schuster instead of an academic press. "The Empathy Diaries" is Turkle's memoir of I really enjoyed this book. I remember reading Sherry Turkle's book "The Second Self" while I was in college in the '80s. I believe it was in a class on artificial intelligence, which at the time was completely foreign and frankly seemed ridiculous to me. Little did I know how groundbreaking she was in her field, and how forward thinking my professor must have been to assign this book published by (gasp!) Simon & Schuster instead of an academic press. "The Empathy Diaries" is Turkle's memoir of her childhood, education, and emerging professional life at MIT, as a young faculty member bridging the discipline of psychology with computer culture - what she describes as a study of "the emotional and social aspects of computer culture." I was riveted by how it all fit together. She spends the last chapter reflecting on where we are today, especially after spending time in lockdown and heavily supported by (dependent on?) technology. As she observes, "The computer offered the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship," and, "As technology became our lifeline, we realized how much we missed the full embrace of the human." She warns, "If you don't teach your children to be alone, they'll only know how to be lonely." Much to think about here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I've not started a review prior to finishing a book, but there's always a first time for everything -or- nothing. Let me begin by saying, "This is a memoir" and as such the reader is getting a glimpse into a person's inner life and the experiences which formed it. If you read the book, read it as a memoir, resist reading it with stalwart opinion or how you would have interpreted the events of her life, I believe it will deliver much more that way. What brought me to this read was, I heard an int I've not started a review prior to finishing a book, but there's always a first time for everything -or- nothing. Let me begin by saying, "This is a memoir" and as such the reader is getting a glimpse into a person's inner life and the experiences which formed it. If you read the book, read it as a memoir, resist reading it with stalwart opinion or how you would have interpreted the events of her life, I believe it will deliver much more that way. What brought me to this read was, I heard an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air with Sherry Turtle and was inspired to put this 'NEW' book on hold at my public library. I'd forgotten about it until it came in and am curriently about a third of the way into it. What prompted my interest was Turkle's research tying empathy to technology and the digital culture, something that has become more curious to me since the pandemic and how society has had to shape shift in ways that utilize technology to the fullest to do work, education and everyday tasks. As mentioned, I'm only part way through the book, but Goodreads invited me to start a review and while I may revise a few things, add to it once finished or not, it seemed an interesting approach for this particular book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Stupendously interesting, but slightly repetitive and, at times rather arcane, this book was something I wanted to put everything else aside for and just listen, listen, listen. This is a book about a woman who was supported enough and loved enough so that, despite some nasty setbacks in life and in love, she still believes in the human connection and its supreme importance, be it in formation of political movements; in psychological growth and development; around the explosion of of personal co Stupendously interesting, but slightly repetitive and, at times rather arcane, this book was something I wanted to put everything else aside for and just listen, listen, listen. This is a book about a woman who was supported enough and loved enough so that, despite some nasty setbacks in life and in love, she still believes in the human connection and its supreme importance, be it in formation of political movements; in psychological growth and development; around the explosion of of personal computing and portable devices; and about us, as a race, turning into objects being controlled by other objects. I could not read a more timely book after fourteen months of isolation, deprivation, and a desperate need to connect once again. With humans, that is. Real humans, in real time, using their real voices, and letting me see their body language, their sense of comfort, and whether or not they might want to give or receive a hug. I cannot wait for this life to resume (rhymes with Zoom) ! It’s too bad, though, that the narrator, one Jill Larson, has not checked her pronunciation of certain Boston locations. Eeks!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer White

    If I could rename this memoir, I would call it, The Book of A**hole Men. It really seemed to be about the men in her life who let her down, although she did not frame it that way. In many respects, she internalized their behavior rather than condemning it. Examples of this include Lacan's visit to to MIT, her biological father's experiments on her; her ex husband's, Seymour Papert's infidelities and her tenure denial at MIT. She reminded me a little bit of Simone de Beauvoir in the way much of t If I could rename this memoir, I would call it, The Book of A**hole Men. It really seemed to be about the men in her life who let her down, although she did not frame it that way. In many respects, she internalized their behavior rather than condemning it. Examples of this include Lacan's visit to to MIT, her biological father's experiments on her; her ex husband's, Seymour Papert's infidelities and her tenure denial at MIT. She reminded me a little bit of Simone de Beauvoir in the way much of the book was about how her thinking evolved over time, how she came to focus on empathy and human connections to technology. However, the memoir's pacing felt off, how rather than giving us scenes, she retold parts of her life, glossing over parts where she published her first book or why she left Chicago or how her divorce impacted her but going into so much detail about her reaction to Lacan's theories. Turkle is obviously brilliant and influential. But I struggled to connect with her or the story despite its title.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    What a lovely memoir, and a remarkable life. Sherry Turkle was a poor(ish), Jewish, Brooklyn kid in the 1950s (Flatbush and Rockaway) with an extremely complicated relationship with her mom, her real dad, and her eventually-adoptive dad, who got a full ride at Radcliffe, happened to live in Paris for a bit in the glorious late 1960s, and went on to get multiple graduate degrees (she's a psychologist) and become a superstar/gadfly at MIT at the dawn of the internet age and author of bestselling b What a lovely memoir, and a remarkable life. Sherry Turkle was a poor(ish), Jewish, Brooklyn kid in the 1950s (Flatbush and Rockaway) with an extremely complicated relationship with her mom, her real dad, and her eventually-adoptive dad, who got a full ride at Radcliffe, happened to live in Paris for a bit in the glorious late 1960s, and went on to get multiple graduate degrees (she's a psychologist) and become a superstar/gadfly at MIT at the dawn of the internet age and author of bestselling books about the ethnography of the digital world, which I guess means the study of our relationship with computers (she is much, much, much smarter than me) and the concurrent decline in basic human empathy. There are family secrets, a tempestuous relationship with an equally smart boyfriend/husband, plenty of emotional rollercoasters, decades of analysis, and, at the core, an intellectually rigorous journey that's as admirable to witness as it is personally incomprehensible. It was such a pleasure to spend time with her.  

  14. 4 out of 5

    Glen Helfand

    Sherry Turkle threw a lunch for Lacan. That's there for the alliteration-he was also a key aspect of her dissertation. This memoir has a psychological rosebud, a key life concern that Turkle traces so much of her life's work towards. That work is as much her professional research and theorizing as it is personal growth. This is her lens, and while the book is revealing, it is through this perspective. Her troubled marriage is kind of a lesson, her learning is life long. Jewish family dynamics of Sherry Turkle threw a lunch for Lacan. That's there for the alliteration-he was also a key aspect of her dissertation. This memoir has a psychological rosebud, a key life concern that Turkle traces so much of her life's work towards. That work is as much her professional research and theorizing as it is personal growth. This is her lens, and while the book is revealing, it is through this perspective. Her troubled marriage is kind of a lesson, her learning is life long. Jewish family dynamics of the 20th century are very much in effect, stories that felt comforting and familiar to me. The book flows well, though I wished the style of personal observation meshed a little bit better with the scientific, her feelings of success more unpacked, the dynamics of her second marriage (which is barely discussed). But aspiring to a life of empathy is a wonderful thing, and Turkle more than rises to that challenge.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    When I saw that Sherry Turkle had written a memoir, I was lightly curious about it since I had read her other books and referenced them as part of my undergraduate thesis. Because my knowledge of her was limited to her scholarly pursuits, I (wrongly) imagined that the writing would be dry and academic. Instead, I found a thoughtful and highly empathic story that involved all the complicated twists and turns that come with being a human in relation to other humans. The writing reflects not only T When I saw that Sherry Turkle had written a memoir, I was lightly curious about it since I had read her other books and referenced them as part of my undergraduate thesis. Because my knowledge of her was limited to her scholarly pursuits, I (wrongly) imagined that the writing would be dry and academic. Instead, I found a thoughtful and highly empathic story that involved all the complicated twists and turns that come with being a human in relation to other humans. The writing reflects not only Turkle's intellect, but also the depth of her character. She tells her story in a way that, at times, feels like a novel because she is able to get outside of her current self in order to go after what it was like to be herself at different ages and stages. At the same time, she uses the wisdom and experience of her current self in order to better understand her past. It is in this area that she especially shines and demonstrates how she cultivated her capacity for empathy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Florent Diverchy

    I read this book without knowing who Sherry Turkle was. The book was listed on the EDGE.org website, and that was enough reason for me to read it. I was so surprised by the content, that I don't even want to talk about it so that future readers can discover this book with the same surprise I have. A few facts however: * This may be the best memoir I have ever read. * This book raises a lot of important questions in many directions * French people (like me) will find an extra dimension to this book as I read this book without knowing who Sherry Turkle was. The book was listed on the EDGE.org website, and that was enough reason for me to read it. I was so surprised by the content, that I don't even want to talk about it so that future readers can discover this book with the same surprise I have. A few facts however: * This may be the best memoir I have ever read. * This book raises a lot of important questions in many directions * French people (like me) will find an extra dimension to this book as a part of it plays in Paris, just after Mai 68. * Those who have learnt the Logo programming language as a young child at school (like me) will find another extra dimension to the book. * The Epilogue in itself touches to the core of Sherry Turkle work and makes me want to read all her books. * In the end, you can only feel love & empathy fo her.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    As someone who thinks a lot about empathy and believes it is the central force to improving the world, The Empathy Diaries grabbed me immediately. It opens with the author trying to find her father and then figuring out a secret as to why her mother kept him from her. I was pulled into the story right away. This is a story of her mom's reasoning and how the author initially used empathy to get closer to her mother so she could figure out what her mother wasn't saying what happened with her fathe As someone who thinks a lot about empathy and believes it is the central force to improving the world, The Empathy Diaries grabbed me immediately. It opens with the author trying to find her father and then figuring out a secret as to why her mother kept him from her. I was pulled into the story right away. This is a story of her mom's reasoning and how the author initially used empathy to get closer to her mother so she could figure out what her mother wasn't saying what happened with her father. Eventually, empathy helped her understand her mother and why she never told her the truth. Empathy started out as the author's strategy for survival, soon helped her find the connections she needed most - to her mom, to her past, to her father, and to herself. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/she...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kerynnisa

    There is much to love about this book, but for me the highlights are: * Her writing - reminds me of Zadie Smith while also quite different from Smith's. It's in the sparkling quality of their prose, the elegance of their sentences. * Her reflections on her academic life - The way she describes the courses she took as an undergraduate, the lectures she attended in the US and in France, how she dedicated her life to one of lifelong learning. As someone who aspires to the same, this is inspiring an There is much to love about this book, but for me the highlights are: * Her writing - reminds me of Zadie Smith while also quite different from Smith's. It's in the sparkling quality of their prose, the elegance of their sentences. * Her reflections on her academic life - The way she describes the courses she took as an undergraduate, the lectures she attended in the US and in France, how she dedicated her life to one of lifelong learning. As someone who aspires to the same, this is inspiring and enviable. * Her engaging tone - Her family life is not an easy one, but there are many pockets of contentment, and plenty of love. Normally I'd be reticent to read such intimate stories, some of which are truly terrible, but her writing kept me safe as she whisked me through the formative periods of her life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Litz-Neavear

    I got this book from the library after hearing the author interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. She is obviously brilliant and I found her family story fascinating. I enjoyed reading this book the most when she was describing her family members and her relationships with them. When she speaks of her work, I was less enthralled. Her academic focus remind me of an epistemology course I took in high school! Although I read a lot about educational and psychological theorists in college and graduate school I got this book from the library after hearing the author interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air. She is obviously brilliant and I found her family story fascinating. I enjoyed reading this book the most when she was describing her family members and her relationships with them. When she speaks of her work, I was less enthralled. Her academic focus remind me of an epistemology course I took in high school! Although I read a lot about educational and psychological theorists in college and graduate school, I admittedly struggled when I had to read the theoretical works themselves! (Piaget, Freud, and Erikson had amazing ideas but weren't exactly light reading.) But it's not her fault that she is a lot smarter than I am...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Not as good as the ecstatic reviews on the cover, but better than the average memoir. There's a good through line, following the author's efforts to untangle her history and how that leads to her interest in the relationship between people and objects. She discusses her studies in an accessible way that inspires me to read more of her academic work. I became impatient with her excessively analytical approach to her relationships. It was astounding how her first marriage - with a "genius"- gets 2 Not as good as the ecstatic reviews on the cover, but better than the average memoir. There's a good through line, following the author's efforts to untangle her history and how that leads to her interest in the relationship between people and objects. She discusses her studies in an accessible way that inspires me to read more of her academic work. I became impatient with her excessively analytical approach to her relationships. It was astounding how her first marriage - with a "genius"- gets 20% of the book, while her 2nd, to the father of her child, warrants a single paragraph. It doesn't answer any questions about how we can better structure our relationships with technology, but it does show how a woman pioneer in a technological field fought to hold her ground.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    So glad I read this! I found it amazingly gripping, consistently enjoying the author's sincere candor about the various influences and challenges she faced. Prof. Turkle has lived a remarkable life and I really appreciated a more unvarnished view of what that life has included (which in turn helps the reader be more honest and complete in considering their own past). Also very helpful to think through how MIT (and US academia in general) evolved from the 1960s-1990s, while never losing sight of So glad I read this! I found it amazingly gripping, consistently enjoying the author's sincere candor about the various influences and challenges she faced. Prof. Turkle has lived a remarkable life and I really appreciated a more unvarnished view of what that life has included (which in turn helps the reader be more honest and complete in considering their own past). Also very helpful to think through how MIT (and US academia in general) evolved from the 1960s-1990s, while never losing sight of the very specific journey spanning Brooklyn, Cambridge, and Paris that this amazing woman blazed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diane Pomerantz

    I had to sit with my response to Dr. Turkle's beautifully written book, which recounts her personal, intellectual and professional journey, in order to adequately articulate how masterfully, I believe, she has shared this journey with the reader. I always find titles to be particularly meaningful and it is certainly the case here. Dr. Turkle poignantly describes, with great sensitivity, the early foundational elements that at times were painful and difficult, that underlie all of her achievement I had to sit with my response to Dr. Turkle's beautifully written book, which recounts her personal, intellectual and professional journey, in order to adequately articulate how masterfully, I believe, she has shared this journey with the reader. I always find titles to be particularly meaningful and it is certainly the case here. Dr. Turkle poignantly describes, with great sensitivity, the early foundational elements that at times were painful and difficult, that underlie all of her achievements. She does this with a depth of understanding that does not detract from her love and gratitude for what she was given - The Empathy Diaries is a perfect title.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Clarke

    The first half of the book was the most fascinating to me in it’s vivid descriptions of family relationships and experiences. It has rich emotional content. The last third of the book I struggled with as I have rudimentary knowledge of the field of psychology and even though I recognized some of the famous names (Bettelheim, Erickson),I found it hard to relate to as it referred to very specific academic content. I highly recommend this book however and think that it has a wide appeal despite the The first half of the book was the most fascinating to me in it’s vivid descriptions of family relationships and experiences. It has rich emotional content. The last third of the book I struggled with as I have rudimentary knowledge of the field of psychology and even though I recognized some of the famous names (Bettelheim, Erickson),I found it hard to relate to as it referred to very specific academic content. I highly recommend this book however and think that it has a wide appeal despite the pedagogical content.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I really enjoyed the story of her life. The whole first section was very compelling- and made me think of parents and grandparents in NY. I got a bit lost in the deep discussion of her academic pursuits - primarily in her early days... as she discusses current human/tech connections- all that made more sense. She weaves in only a little misogyny that female Researchers and academics experienced... I’m sure there was more. She has had an interesting and seemingly quite full life...although much sti I really enjoyed the story of her life. The whole first section was very compelling- and made me think of parents and grandparents in NY. I got a bit lost in the deep discussion of her academic pursuits - primarily in her early days... as she discusses current human/tech connections- all that made more sense. She weaves in only a little misogyny that female Researchers and academics experienced... I’m sure there was more. She has had an interesting and seemingly quite full life...although much still seems unexplored about her real inner self. Probably more of a 3.5 stars

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Cuadra

    As a young researcher, also troubled by pretend empathy in machines, this book was a gem. Turkle tells her story bravely, engagingly, and honestly. She displays the human side of many famous researchers in our field in intimate detail. Reading about her challenges and successes in her personal life and professional experience, and the interplay of the two, also made me feel supported and encouraged in my own research and struggles. Most importantly, she raises a crucial issue surrounding the fut As a young researcher, also troubled by pretend empathy in machines, this book was a gem. Turkle tells her story bravely, engagingly, and honestly. She displays the human side of many famous researchers in our field in intimate detail. Reading about her challenges and successes in her personal life and professional experience, and the interplay of the two, also made me feel supported and encouraged in my own research and struggles. Most importantly, she raises a crucial issue surrounding the future of our society as machines are turning humans into commodities.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolina

    An interesting memoir about a rather unusual life and upbringing ... For me personally, the first part was a lot less interesting than the second half where the author addresses her professional life, the people she met along her career, her tenure at MIT, as well as some of the psychoanalytic theories she explored in her work, her meeting with Lacan and other famous scientists, etc. -- Overall her narrative I felt was a bit uneven, spending quite some time on less interesting, small details of An interesting memoir about a rather unusual life and upbringing ... For me personally, the first part was a lot less interesting than the second half where the author addresses her professional life, the people she met along her career, her tenure at MIT, as well as some of the psychoanalytic theories she explored in her work, her meeting with Lacan and other famous scientists, etc. -- Overall her narrative I felt was a bit uneven, spending quite some time on less interesting, small details of her early life which could have been summarized or left out completely.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Liz Gray

    Turkle has written and taught about the impact of technology in our lives for decades. In this excellent memoir, she weaves her personal story with her professional one, and shows the importance of empathy to both. I was especially fascinated by the way she kept returning to her childhood, her youth, and her relationships with family members in order to understand herself and others. A fabulous book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jody Augustadt

    Not to sound self absorbed but I feel this book was written for me. I started programming as a career in 1982 , right out of NYU. It was the beginning of a trajectory but cultural and economic As a woman it was an extraordinary world of intellectual achievement without the patriarchal boundaries in most other industries at that time. I also share the love of fashion and sociological analysis. Truly unique in its scope.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is a fascinating intellectual history of a person uniquely positioned to comment on one of the most important phenomena of our time: human-AI interaction. The second half of the book was far more interesting to me as it focused more on Turkle’s thinking and less on the details of her childhood. The whole book is beautifully written and offers fascinating insights on that which enhances and diminishes our humanity.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tatum Shannon

    Even though I wasn't familiar with the author's work as a psychologist and researcher, this memoir was still very interesting. Her career as an academic is evident in her writing as well as in the strongest chapters of the book where she talks about her research- the relationships people have with technology, machines, and computers. I enjoyed how she chronicled her studies, research, and career at Harvard and MIT in the 70s. Even though I wasn't familiar with the author's work as a psychologist and researcher, this memoir was still very interesting. Her career as an academic is evident in her writing as well as in the strongest chapters of the book where she talks about her research- the relationships people have with technology, machines, and computers. I enjoyed how she chronicled her studies, research, and career at Harvard and MIT in the 70s.

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