|HUMAN IDENTITY IN CYBERSPACE
March 25, 1997
in this forum:
How have computers affected education and learning? Is the personality used in computer interaction a second self? How can the Internet help Seniors combat boredom and relate to other generations? Will electronic communication lead to a resurgence in writing skills? How will the Internet and technology advances affect the children of today psychologically? Additional questions and comments . Ken Leebow of Atlanta, GA, asks:
Many people speak of technology and the Internet as creating a world of "haves vs. have nots." While that may be true, I tend to see it as people who are interested (passionate) about this type of techology versus people that couldn't care less.
Do you think two types of worlds might emerge? The passionate vs. the totally uninterested?
MIT professor Sherry Turkle responds:
I think this is a very interesting way to repose the question of the "two culture" divide on the Net. It is so often posed in terms of the rich and the poor, but your formulation is very evocative. I think that things are going to move very much as they did with personal computers in general. At first, the only people who had them were "hobbyists" or passionate enthusiasts. Then, little by little, as the machines became easier to use and of greater "instrumental" use, a larger group of people became interested. And in a way, they were better able to "put the computer in its place" because they were not such passionate users. They were able to integrate the computer into the "regular" routines of life.
It is still true that there are personal computer enthusiasts who really spend a lot of time with their machines. But most people are in that second group and it is they who set the tone for the personal computer industry and for the computer culture.
I think that we are in the midst of this kind of process on the Net. So, I think that the future of the Net will be dominated by people who are not passionate but active, enthusiastic users. The Net "hobbyists" will be a special, committed, but relatively isolated bunch.