Life On The Screen (Book Cover)
"In the spirit of Whitman's reflections on the child, I want to know what we are becoming if the first objects we look upon each day are simulations into which we deploy our virtual selves. In other words, this is not a book about computers. Rather, it is a book about the intense relationships people have with computers and how these relationships are changing the way we think and feel. Along with the movement from a culture of calculation towards a culture of simulation have come changes in what computers do for us and in what they do to us - to our relationships and our ways of thinking about ourselves.

The new opaque interfaces - most specifically, the Macintosh iconic style of interface, which simulates the space of a desktop as well as communication through dialogue - represented more than a technical change. These new interfaces modeled a way of understanding that depended on getting to know a computer through interacting with it, as one might get to know a person or explore a town.

We have learned to take things at interface value. We are moving toward a culture of simulation in which people are increasingly comfortable with substituting representations of reality for the real.

We have sought out the subjective computer. Computers don't just do things for us, they do things to us, including to our ways of thinking about ourselves and other people. A decade ago, such subjective effects of the computer presence were secondary in the sense that they were not the ones being sought. Today, things are often the other way around. People explicitly turn to computers for experience that they hope will change their ways of thinking or will affect their social and emotional lives. When people explore simulation games and fantasy worlds or log on to a community where they have virtual friends and lovers, they are not thinking of the computer as what Charles Babbage, the nineteenth-century mathematician who invented the first programmable machine, called an analytical engine. They are seeking out the computer as an intimate machine."

Brainstorms Tomorrow Mind to Mind