SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT
That is the mantra of The Circle, the fictional but all too plausible social media company that destroys Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram in the social media game in the Dave Eggers novel, The Circle. (It was also just released as a movie last year. Reviews are not kind).
Upon finishing the book I really wanted to delete all my accounts and go live in a cave somewhere. The Circle, having grown all powerful in owning the online space, believes that there is no such thing as too much transparency, and no such thing as too much Circle. With recreational social media conquered, they invent a tiny streaming camera that can be placed anywhere without being noticed. What starts as a nice way to watch your property or a rogue government quickly spirals out of control as the Circle decides the world would be much better with total transparency - everybody streaming their lives in real time, with every bit captured, stored, and publicly available on Circe servers.
I'm pretty sure that is an unnamed CIRCLE OF HELL in Dante's Inferno.
It's not a perfect book by any means, and Eggers is a little heavy handed at times in making his point. However, so many things in the book ring so true.
- How an innocent technological advance, created with the best of intentions, can be hijacked for evil.
- How government could use such a tool. What if we ran voting through Facebook, and your account was locked on voting day until you cast your ballot?
- The implications of social ratings schemes and how they could impact the users on the social network.
- The addictive, almost cult-like obsession with social networks.
- How the minority that won't play ball will be ostracized.
- What happens when the expectation of privacy becomes a anti-social behavior?
I could go on. It's a fun, and terrifying book, that you should read.