Sherry Turkle is awesome. A good buddy of mine, Tyler, sent me the link to David Zax’s interview with Turkle about her new book Alone Together thinking it would get my hackles up. Turkle is perhaps one of the most perceptive thinkers on technology and society. She is not eternal pessimist David Carr, nor is she a paranoid technological survivalist like Douglass Rushkoff. I’ve written about her before at Discover and her ability to understand both what humans need and what technology can do makes her an essential mind for navigating the coming century. She artfully captures our culture’s current weaknesses:

If you get into these email, Facebook thumbs-up/thumbs-down settings, a paradoxical thing happens: even though you’re alone, you get into this situation where you’re continually looking for your next message, and to have a sense of approval and validation. You’re alone but looking for approval as though you were together–the little red light going off on the BlackBerry to see if you have somebody’s validation. I make a statement in the book, that if you don’t learn how to be alone, you’ll always be lonely, that loneliness is failed solitude. We’re raising a generation that has grown up with constant connection, and only knows how to be lonely when not connected. This capacity for generative solitude is very important for the creative process, but if you grow up thinking it’s your right and due to be tweeted and retweeted, to have thumbs up on Facebook…we’re losing a capacity for autonomy both intellectual and emotional.

Alone Together is what You Are Not a Gadget, The Shallows and Program or Be Programmed so desperately wanted to be. Buy her books. Read them. Highlight them. Sherry Turkle gets it.