Turkle's first section, "A Tale of Two Aesthetics," makes a compelling companion to Richard Lanham's work in The Electronic Word. Both Turkle and Lanham set up a binaristic interpretive framework from which to articulate the "uncanny" nature of online identity and digital textuality. In Turkle's case, she points to the seductive nature of the computer screen as an instance of the rise of postmodern aesthetics. She locates the postmodern in the interface, specifically the Macintosh interface that, she claims, is more 'opaque' than its 'transparent' IBM PC competitor. Lanham's model uses similar terminology; he speaks of our relation to the screen as 'looking at' or 'looking through.' Turkle splits the interface phenomenon into the Apple II modernist "interpretation of understanding, according to which understanding proceeds by reducing complex tihngs to simpler elements" (33) and the Macintosh interface as a postmodernist simulation of a real desktop.
The key to the shift from transparent to opaque, according to Turkle, lies in the way that Macintosh encouraged "play and tinkering" (35). Turkle understands this as the way of bricolage, that play of the bricoleur, the one who tinkers as opposed to the one who plans. The brief history of computing and simulation in this section does a good job of explaining the shift in thinking from concrete and abstract to simulation and pluralistic play. Turkle is also careful to foreground how these radical shifts affected gender as she moves forward into the following section on the protean nature of the self.
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