Masthead CMC Magazine / March 1, 1996
 The Gendered Mystique, by Leslie Regan Shade

Turkle's First Glimpses at The Second Self

In the mid-1980's, Turkle, Professor of Sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was celebrated for her seminal work exploring users of computers,from children to hackers. Her pioneering work, notably in The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, on the effect of the computer in social life and psychological development, presented us with some early formulations on the gender differences in children's early relationships with computer culture. In her observations, Turkle differentiated between boys as being `hard masters' and girls `soft masters' in computer learning styles. She recognized that one of the ways to make the computer culture more inclusive was to recognize and accept the different learning and stylistic paths men and women take in their programming and design-what she and Seymour Papert dubbed `epistemological pluralism'. The move towards object-oriented programming, and a change in computer interface design from archaic and hostile UNIX line commands to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) designs, featuring icons fashioned as familiar desktop objects such as trashcans and files (the Apple Macintosh version) to the Microsoft Windows design, is one way the computer industry has tried to reach out to a wider audience. Recent trends towards social interfaces for PCs featuring `real-life' scenarios (living rooms, offices, town centres) is another way that the computer has been `humanized', particularly as the computer has become more situated within the domestic realm. --

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