The Circle by Dave Eggers

images-13The Circle by Dave Eggers Some of you may have read George Orwell’s 1949 book titled 1984 in which he envisioned a time in the future when “ Big Brother” will always be watching you. That book predicted a society in which everyone was under scrutiny by the omnipresent government. Now almost 65 years after the publication of that book Dave Eggers comes out with The Circle in which he envisions a society where everyone is under scrutiny by everyone else.

The story opens as Mae, a young woman a few years out of college is about to take a job with the most avant-garde company (think a combination of Apple, Google, Microsoft). As expected she encounters a beautiful campus with every amenity to make the life of it’s employees comfortable and worry free. She soon learns that to do the job that is expected, one must be responsive to your customers and co-workers. There may seem to be nothing unusual about this well-known business principle. But the day of easy communication via computer, phone and now a special wristband is easy to do but involves very large numbers of interested coworkers and the now involved general public which in turn requires massive meticulous tracking procedures. So at a worker’s desk at this wonderful company there are at least 2 large computer screen keeping track of 1000s of customer responses and a growing numbers of “friends” and co-workers with whom you meet and interact The number of screens at your desk will soon grow as will the time a conscientious worker spends responding to messages. There is of course some built in competition for those who want to be recognized for doing a good job. But no worry, workers can stay overnight in special beautiful hotel like dormitories and there are all sorts of educational and social programs on campus.

There are special programs built in to keep track where everybody is at any moment (our new cell phones do that today). This is just the tip of the iceberg. The story of The Circle is not just about the ever increasing amount of information and data that can be accumulated, tracked and used for seemingly good purposes. The book is also about a handful of people in addition to Mae and Annie (her friend who brought her to the company and has been one of her biggest advocates) and how this new information culture is impacting on them and the people around them. For example, Mae’s parents initially are so happy to benefit by being given free quality health insurance because Mae is their daughter. They soon will regret they and their daughter ever had anything to do with this massive corporation. The company comes up with an invention in which a person wears a camera around his or her neck and just about everything they do and experience is traceable on this world wide communication system. A politician volunteers to wear this camera and becomes “ transparent” so no one can ever accuse her of being two faced, secretive or untruthful because everything she does is known. Soon most politicians end up doing the same thing.

Most intriguing are the three founders or “ leaders” of the company (remind you of the term used for the honchos in China?). There is Ty, the young techno genius who may not have thought through all the implications of his initial innovations, which led to the founding of the company. There is Bailey, another one of the big three leaders, who believes that knowing and seeing all will lead to a better world for all. Then there is Stetson , the cold calculating man who realizes that the more you control, the more money the company can make. By encompassing these 3 characteristics as three different people who together embody the company, we are better able to understand the essence of The Circle (name of the company) which is about to come around 360 degrees and essentially take over the lives of everyone.

Do not fret, you can safely read this book on your electronic reader. You will have control on your Facebook who you want to friend and you can decide if you want to Tweet. It also isn’t necessary for you to carry an open camera for everyone on earth to have access to you. But what if everyone else did this and suggested that you had something to hide? Perhaps the circle is closing faster than we realize.

Category: FG - Fiction General, FSF - Fiction Science Fiction | Tags: , , , Comment »

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