The Circle

the circle by Dave EggersSo I finished reading Dave Eggers’ last book The circle the other day: It’s a book about a girl going to work for a large tech company called “The Circle” which is highly reminiscent of Google. These are my thoughts:

Dave could have done better with this subject. He is an opinionated writer and does complex issues very well (Think of What is the What about child soldiers and Zeitoun about hurricane Katrina) Here he could have gone much deeper into the problems with complete online openness. Or what it means if a corporation which has a main objective to make money takes on the role of government. The only real point he makes upon first reading is that there should always be an option for people to opt out of a system. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the book could be much more stifling than it was.

Google and social media in popular culture seem to always evoke references to George Orwell’s 1984. Often incorrect. This book did remind me of 1984, not necessarily because of the theme or subject but the language. The Circle as a company develops many new services all with compound names like TruYou. Obviously this is similar to YouTube but also to the language NewSpeak, spoken in Orwell’s book.  The goal of NewSpeak is to brainwash people, and the Circle never goes that far, so you shouldn’t make any other comparisons.

I also felt somehow that this book is already outdated. Eggers probably did his research last year or even the year before and that is why most of the technology in the book is already here or could be here within the next year. Maybe us readers are meant to think that the technology used in the book isn’t very futuristic which adds to the uneasiness if you find loss of privacy uneasy. But I suspect many people don’t care as much as they should about privacy. More than once I ‘caught myself’ thinking : “Gosh, that would be very useful, or I already do that and I’m happy with that.”

It’s a good book though, worth the read.


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