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Book Review: The Circle

Soulskill posted 1 year,11 days | from the satisfyingly-rounder-than-the-square dept.

Books 85

Nick Kolakowski writes "Here are the lessons imparted by Dave Eggers' The Circle, his new novel about the rise of a fictional technology company clearly modeled on Google or Facebook: 1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff. 2) Unless stopped, companies that build social-networking tools will create increasingly intrusive software. 3) The only sure way to stay sane in our increasingly interconnected (Eggers would say over-connected) world is to drive at high speed off a bridge." Read below for the rest of Nick's review.

The book's eponymous tech firm earns untold billions of dollars off the Unified Operating System, a portal through which virtually the entire world accesses the broader Web. The OS bans anonymous identities; all social information is posted out there for anyone to peruse; currencies such as Bitcoin have been discarded in favor of online banking accounts irrevocably linked to real identities. The Circle itself is headquartered in the Bay Area, on a playful campus that caters to its employees’ every material whim, so long as they're willing to work twenty-plus hours a day.

That the world would accept something like the Circle’s omnipresent software without debate, of course, is the most far-fetched of the book’s assumptions. But Eggers needs that exaggerated scenario to support his larger theme of how we’re slowly but surely letting our privacy slip away from us in exchange for digital baubles, and how online interactions—clicking "Likes," viewing posts—is an imperfect substitution for real life. As one of his characters (who acts as the doomed Voice of Reason) states early on:

“Judgments like ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ and ‘smiles’ and ‘frowns’ were limited to junior high. Someone would write a note and it would say, ‘Do you like unicorns and stickers?’ and you’d say, ‘Yeah, I like unicorns and stickers! Smile!’ That kind of thing. But now it’s not just junior high kids who do it, it’s everyone, and it seems to me sometimes that I’ve entered some inverted zone, some mirror world where the dorkiest shit in the world is completely dominant. The world has dorkified itself.”

The Circle’s employees, of course, have little problem with that world (until the end, of course, when another major character attempts to bring the whole system crashing down). Even if Eggers gets the technology wrong, in order to service his broader point, he perfectly nails the spirit of hubris and incessant self-congratulation that’s gripped many startups and tech behemoths in this era of easy VC money, huge app audiences, and massive acquisitions. That bit of software that makes all the world’s information easily accessible, he’s whispering in the background, is totally missing the point of what constitutes a real, lived-in existence.

In other words, The Circle isn’t much of a cautionary tale for the broader world, as no single commercial firm will ever (hopefully) eradicate our privacy to the degree that the company and its characters accomplish in the novel (although it’s clear that some tech giants will do their level best). But on another level, the text can still act as a cautionary tale to the current generation of developers and entrepreneurs” who think their software will effortlessly change the world for the better.

You can purchase The Circle from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews (sci-fi included) — to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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the circle review (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103729)

lovely book if you arent a googlophile or a facebookhead

High speed off a bridge (4, Funny)

Qzukk (229616) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103743)

only sure way to stay sane our increasingly interconnected

If I have to read that again, I'm heading for the closest bridge at high speed.

Re:High speed off a bridge (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103829)

If the bridge is sufficiently high, it doesn't really matter what speed you drive off of it.

Re:High speed off a bridge (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104789)

Is that like driving slowly to a high bridge?

Re:High speed off a bridge (1)

mcswell (1102107) | 1 year,8 days | (#45124725)

Didn't they do that in Inception, and come out ok?

"with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and.." (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103767)

That sounds like, you know, like, a totally common real life thing. Like.

Re:"with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103801)

Agreed. My first reaction to that was "why don't you spend time with your friends that way if you want and not tell us how to spend ours."

Re:"with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104045)

Like, I like, totally like think you like, missed his point.

Like.

Re:"with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104903)

Thats (ahem...) like totally ultra mega hella bitchin rad.

The rise of new cults you mean. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103787)

Isn't that the modern startup culture anyway?

Re:The rise of new cults you mean. (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105093)

Blasphemer!

Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103795)

Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff.

Or put another way, my online friends are somehow "less real" than your friends, is that it? It really irks me every time I hear someone express such a sentiment, so hopefully I'm just negatively biased to interpreting it that way, and the author really did not mean it the way I interpreted it.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104079)

It's different with family. Facebook et al lets you avoid real social interaction with family members. There's certainly a measurable difference in this "online" vs "real" social interaction, measured in stabbings and shootings. There's a reason why the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are the busiest times of the year for emergency rooms.

So, yes, I'd certainly say "less real", but that's not in any way the opposite of "better". For example, it's unlikely that any interaction between your online friends and your girlfriend will end with someone in the emergency room and someone in jail. Less real, but better.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104275)

The appeal of Facebook is usually that you can have not real interactions with family. In fact you can cleverly avoid having any at all. Feature, not a bug.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104339)

I'm not sure you really meant what you said. Sure, there are differences in the interactions between my friends and I, but that is not the same as saying that my online friends are "less real".

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45107471)

There' s also a difference between "I" (subject) and "me" (object). Too bad you have apparently forgot what that difference is, in favour of the former pronoun.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,9 days | (#45115811)

Those differences more or less define "real" is the thing. The mistake is confusing "real" with "preferable" IMO, but still real social interaction is required to reproduce the species and whatnot.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104675)

The first thing that comes to your mind when someone brings up face-to-face family interaction is violent feuding? You may want to get that looked at.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

lgw (121541) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105053)

Yes, I have a normal family. What's your point? You expect a 50's evening TV family? Talk to someone who works in an ER sometime if you want real cynicism; heck, it's one of the reasons very few people have a long career in the ER: too much truth about human nature.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105835)

I come from a family of heavy drinkers and fighters. Interestingly, and maybe because we are more southerly than northerly, we don't fight each other. I have seen guns pulled on uninvited guests, and once on someone walking down the street. Never saw anyone in my family fight with another member of the family. And no, there is no incestuous activities either.. we are not from that far south.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104999)

No, not at all. When you meet your internet friends in real life, that's when you make memories that last a lifetime. That's what is meant.

Re:Poor Substitute For Real-Life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45105533)

So it implies that the experiences my friends and I have are less meaningful unless we get together face-to-face? I'm not sure that's better...

Agree / Disagree (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103799)

"1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff."

True, but I consider it to be like pornography: It may be a poor substitute for the real thing but it's there if you need it.

And for those who live in the country, social networking is an IMPROVEMENT over the old isolation.

"2) Unless stopped, companies that build social-networking tools will create increasingly intrusive software."

Duh.

"3) The only sure way to stay sane our increasingly interconnected (Eggers would say over-connected) world is to drive at high speed off a bridge."

Bullshit.

Sure, there are negative elements in the above. But see (1) for example. Yes, there are addicts who exclude the real world for electronic "social" life. But for a great many people, it is a vast improvement over earlier times. It all depends on how you use it. I use it for specific reasons and for specific purposes (and yes, this is one of them, for reasons of my own).

As for #2, it's what people like me have been saying for years. Does Dave Eggers think this is some kind of revelation or something?

And #3 is just nonsense. Unless you are the kind of person who has no control over her own decisions.

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103873)

True, but I consider it to be like pornography: It may be a poor substitute for the real thing but it's there if you need it.

Strongly disagree. The friendships I formed over a copper wire are no less real than the ones you formed face-to-face.

Re:Agree / Disagree (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103947)

"Strongly disagree. The friendships I formed over a copper wire are no less real than the ones you formed face-to-face."

I don't disagree. I know married people who met online. BUT... that wasn't the point.

The point being made is that given a choice, an experience with other live people is usually better than one online.

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104115)

The point being made is that given a choice, an experience with other live people is usually better than one online.

Not really how your original post read, but fair enough. My only beef was with how you called it a "poor substitute", which sounds like just another way of saying all of my copper-based friendships are some how "less real" than any single face-to-face one.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104529)

"My only beef was with how you called it a 'poor substitute', which sounds like just another way of saying all of my copper-based friendships are some how 'less real' than any single face-to-face one."

Well, it is. If I have a reasonable choice, I would vastly prefer to have real-world contact than do it via remote electrons. It isn't that electrons aren't good... it's that they are a "poor substitute" for the other thing. They're okay but they don't compare.

Not "less real", just "not as good".

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45105599)

So you were actually just stating a personal preference. Again, not how it originally sounded, but fair enough.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45106435)

"So you were actually just stating a personal preference. Again, not how it originally sounded, but fair enough."

Well, I do think it's a widely-shared preference. Maybe not universal.

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104299)

I agree, but why do we need to choose?

For creating and fully enjoying friendships, I like real life. But online is very useful for helping to maintain friendships and arranging future physical meetings.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Hatta (162192) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105013)

Indeed. Married people might have met online, but did they have the wedding online? What about the wedding night? Clearly, face to face interaction has advantages.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

HiThere (15173) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105583)

There are people who got married online. Whether they spent their wedding night online wasn't covered in the news story.

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45105733)

Clearly, face to face interaction has advantages.

Not sure I correctly expressed what I was trying to say. But your mention of weddings has given me an idea.

"Your marriage is less real than mine, because mine is heterosexual and yours is homosexual."

"Your friendships are less real than mine, because I hang out with my friends face-to-face, and you just sit in front of a computer."

That is the attitude that I despise, whether it is about friendship, marriage, or plenty of other topics not explicitly named.

Sponsored content (0)

Animats (122034) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103891)

"1) Sharing content with people online is a poor substitute for having real-life experiences with, like, kayaking and family gatherings and drinking and stuff."

Is this sponsored content from the booze industry?

The booze industry puts massive efforts into making booze "cool". "Alcohol marketing can shape culture by creating and sustaining expectations and norms about how to achieve social, sporting or sexual success". It's not just commercials. There are discounts for areas near prestigious schools. [harvard.edu]

Re:Sponsored content (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104067)

I think the idea was to point out that drinking is a direct social engagement, rather than an indirect one like everything you do online; I doubt "teh booze industry" would bother with subliminal ads on a marginal website, when blatant advertising on major media networks is so damn effective.

Now go grab me a sixxer of Silver Bullets so I can have a bunch of models come and hang off my junk like they do in the commercials. That happens, right?

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104157)

I agree with your point, but not completely. I read something the other day which I thought was a good perspective. The question is posed by many people in many ways, and I honestly never stopped to think about the question in depth. The question without further babbling preamble is: Why have we recently thrown away thousands of years of evolution?

How many of us today could survive for any length of time in the event of a catastrophe? Most people will probably "claim" to be able to, but lets look at everything required if a solar flare wiped out the worlds electricity. Gather and sanitize water is an obvious first thing, and while most of us could find some water how many could build a pot or still to sanitize water? Gather, hunt, and plant food. Again, many people claim they can hunt, but meat alone will make you sickly in a short time. Know what mushrooms and tree bark you can eat? Medicine is another biggie. Know what plants can help you heal or take away pain, make you vomit or prevent you from vomiting? How about building shelter, or establishing a community so that you don't have to hold all the knowledge yourself?

The concern from the person that posed the question was not simply that we don't know how to do these things. The concern is that we have big giant corporations telling you that you don't need to know how to do them. Governments have become as dependent on the same technology as you and I have. That technology is frivolous and detaches people from what is required for life. Even worse is that its being pushed so that people forget thousands of years of learning, to not just how to survive but to prosper.

While I agree with your premise, I happen to also agree with the author. If the technology puts us on a pivot where we either massively die or have easy access to entertainment, it will swing to the one that make a couple people the most money.

Re:Agree / Disagree (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104323)

We've never been able to survive on our own in the advent of a catastrophe. If you were a subsistence farmer in Europe, and there was an extended drought your crops failed and you died. Extended winter? Your stores failed and you died. Had slightly impacted wisdom teeth? You got a massive dental infection and you died. A foreigner accidentally tracks a new species of weed onto your farm that's poisonous? You either have to kill it off aggressively, or experimentally eat it - and well, you died.

This is rugged individualism fiction of a uniquely American kind. Human history takes a dim view individualism and had a way of dealing with: you died.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104431)

Given that a small community of 20-30 people was not that uncommon 150 years ago in the US, you are wrong to claim that we never could. There are numerous small tribes in Africa today which are self sufficient and require no magic technology to aide them in "living". Where they have problems in Africa today, many of these are caused by corporate intervention and ownership.

I make no claim that their lifestyle is better or worse than ours, but rather pointing out that they can and could survive in low populations without Googling "Is this plant toxic?". We can not, and would have great difficulty in doing so.

Another thought is that you seem to completely miss the point in the mental exercise. It's not about surviving if a 5000 foot wave swamps your home or that you are already living without technology and a plague ship comes to harbor. It's a question of surviving without the technology we have all grown dependent on in a very short time. If you have no ability to generate electricity you soon have no gas for vehicles, no phones, no food, no medical treatments, etc...

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104577)

"There are numerous small tribes in Africa today which are self sufficient and require no magic technology to aide them in "living". Where they have problems in Africa today, many of these are caused by corporate intervention and ownership."

Except for one thing: your "communities" of 20-30 people are not entirely self-sufficient. Although such a community might otherwise be self-sufficient, reinforcement of recessive genes would cause them to die out. It takes a population of about 200 humans or more to maintain a viable gene pool. That's why such small tribes that have existed for any length of time ALL have a tradition of marrying outside the tribe or community.

Which again gets back to part of my point: even though keeping in touch with others, in person, might not be viable in daily life for some people, they still have reason for keeping in touch, in what ways they can.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105155)

Yes, you are correct that there must be breeding with other small tribes. No, this does not take away their ability to survive without outside intervention. While I agree with the technicality of your point, it does not in any way change mine.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45106471)

"Yes, you are correct that there must be breeding with other small tribes. No, this does not take away their ability to survive without outside intervention."

I did not make the latter claim. My only point was that they are not entirely self-sufficient and do require contact outside the group.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,8 days | (#45123377)

Fair enough.

Re:Agree / Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104537)

Well no, people didn't just die - people adapted.

Drought and crops failed? Become something other than a small farmer. No need to die.
Extended winter and stores failed? They packed their shit and migrated. Or attacked and stole from someone else.

You seem to be under the delusion that humans group together in large populations "naturally" or organically. No, not really.

Towns, cities - population centers - are the result of food supply. Large groups of humans living in close proximity is in no way a biological or genetic imperative and if you think it is, you have a social science education (i.e you're an idiot).

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

HiThere (15173) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105667)

Historically, dying was the most common option. If it were easy to choose another, people probably would have.

I can think of a few exceptions, e.g. once in China people starved to death in southern China rather than eat the donated wheat from northern China. I'm not sure how voluntary the donation was, but the starving to death was voluntary. (Though I might have that backwards. It could have been the wheat farmers of northern China that starved to death rather than eat rice.)

FWIW, the evidence I'm aware of tends to support the assertion that humans group together in "large" populations naturally. Depending on what you consider large. Certainly in the humdreds, and probably in the thousands. This doesn't mean that they live that way all the time, but as far back as we can trace things (i.e., apparently before agriculture) people seem to have tended to gather together periodically in large groups. The reasons are a trifle obscure, but my guess is to encourage exogamous marriages. (Caution: I Am Not An Anthropologist.)

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104493)

"While I agree with your premise, I happen to also agree with the author. If the technology puts us on a pivot where we either massively die or have easy access to entertainment, it will swing to the one that make a couple people the most money."

A big part of MY point was that it isn't "technology" doing that, it's you.

If you decide to be dependent on that technology, that's your problem. Don't blame it on the technology. Technology isn't "putting us on a pivot", people are. And they have a choice.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45105095)

First and foremost, I'm using "we" and "our" in very loose terms to discuss the implications to society as a whole, not my own personal experience. I do actually have military trained survival skills, but the _majority_ of US citizens do not. I'm sure that other people have equivalent skills to mine, and probably better from various teachings. That is not the majority of society though, those numbers are rather small. That said, the skills I have are not enough to smith a pot. I could survive, I could not prosper.

If you decide to be dependent on that technology, that's your problem. Don't blame it on the technology. Technology isn't "putting us on a pivot", people are. And they have a choice.

Your claim is like setting a bunch of booze around a bunch of teenagers, telling them over and over again how great it will make them, then claiming it's their own stupid fault after they get drunk and sick.

Media and advertising, like it or not, play a massive role in our lives. TV and Radio push people toward video games, movies, celebrity news, and social media.

I'm sure that you will claim "It's a parents fault for putting their kid in front of a TV to begin with". Which ignores the other more recent changes in society where many people have to work 2 jobs, most 2 parent families must have both parents working, and morality changes resulting in record single parent homes (The last having nothing to do with LGBT issues either, just in case someone decided to toss out a herring).

How many kids have a home economics class today and learn to sew? Cook? Wood work? Yes, we are teaching what we call "modern" alternatives in schools, but at what real cost?

The world is not about me but society as a whole. I'm not claiming everyone should learn an old school trade, I'm claiming we should consider the implications of not having people trained, and coercing people away from even looking.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,11 days | (#45106417)

"First and foremost, I'm using "we" and "our" in very loose terms to discuss the implications to society as a whole, not my own personal experience."

Well, I also thought it was pretty clear that I meant "you" in a generic, non-personal sense.

"Your claim is like setting a bunch of booze around a bunch of teenagers, telling them over and over again how great it will make them, then claiming it's their own stupid fault after they get drunk and sick."

Bullshit. I've been standing around telling people what a bad idea some of this technology is. Now who's getting personal?

"Media and advertising, like it or not, play a massive role in our lives."

They do NOT play a massive role in my life. They really don't. If they play a massive role in yours (this time meant personally), then that's a choice you have made. I have made a different choice. My favorite piece of music is 300 years old, and I only pay attention to the advertising that I choose.

I'm sure that you will claim "It's a parents fault for putting their kid in front of a TV to begin with".

Well, I don't think you have any reason to be so sure of yourself. As mentioned earlier, I dislike many of the technology trends as much as anyone else. But I do make my opinions about the matter well-known; I don't just blindly sit there and take it like a sheep.

"Yes, we are teaching what we call "modern" alternatives in schools, but at what real cost?"

We are? Does your child have a class in "how to consume fast food"? I don't know what you're trying to say here. In our local schools, kids take woodshop as they always have, or "Home Ec" (the name varies from place to place) just like they always have. I have no idea what "modern alternatives" you are referring to.

"The world is not about me but society as a whole."

Methinks you are a little bit paranoid. Repeat: I was using YOU in a generic sense. As in "IF you are complaining about X, then stop because it's a choice you made." Aimed at the general readership. I have only made one personal comment, I labeled it as such, and it was pretty mild.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

s.petry (762400) | 1 year,11 days | (#45106607)

Bullshit. I've been standing around telling people what a bad idea some of this technology is. Now who's getting personal?

Wait, you have a TV Show during prime time? Radio show? Yes, I am being a smart ass because you either completely miss the concept of advertising and how we are forced to listen to it, or choose to ignore a presented reality. I don't care how many people "you" sit and talk to about the dangers of technology unless you can hit the volume that every TV News caster does when they state "Follow us on Twitter" or "Follow us on Facebook".

They do NOT play a massive role in my life. They really don't. If they play a massive role in yours (this time meant personally), then that's a choice you have made. I have made a different choice. My favorite piece of music is 300 years old, and I only pay attention to the advertising that I choose.

Again with the me and you thing? Really, I opened showing the perspective I was looking at. Your Well, I also thought it was pretty clear that I meant "you" in a generic, non-personal sense seems a bit wishy washy, or is it only you that is allowed to make generalizations?

We are? Does your child have a class in "how to consume fast food"? I don't know what you're trying to say here. In our local schools, kids take woodshop as they always have, or "Home Ec" (the name varies from place to place) just like they always have. I have no idea what "modern alternatives" you are referring to.

What the hell are you talking about in your first sentence? I tried to be civil and you turn everything back in personal attack instead of holding a dialogue.

Most schools don't have Home Ec requirements any more. Most schools don't have Shops any more, at least not in the two States where my kid went to school. Home Ec was optional in California, but didn't exist in Michigan. He did have some nifty electronics classes and learned quite a bit about circuitry. I was not outright dismissing the alternatives or claiming they are bad, I asked a question. You take it as a personal affront for some reason.

Methinks you are a little bit paranoid. Repeat: I was using YOU in a generic sense. As in "IF you are complaining about X, then stop because it's a choice you made." Aimed at the general readership. I have only made one personal comment, I labeled it as such, and it was pretty mild.

Using "you" in the form of attack like "It's your own damn fault" is still an attack on "me". Claiming it's a generalization like "they" or "those people" after the fact is not a correction.

It seems that there is some very confusing dialogue on your end. When I use a generalization you take it as a personal attack. When I mentioned advertising, you claimed "you" are not impacted. When you use a generalization, even in the form of "your" it's supposed to not be personal? Pick a method if you really want dialogue. I can easily switch to longer terminology if generalizations become confusing, but be consistent.

As mentioned previously, I'm not claiming it's all bad. I'm claiming that we do have massive corporations at least appearing to try and make people dependents. We have a Government mandated education system that is facilitating that dependency on technology, and an advertising system reinforcing those teachings.

I agree that in the long run "we" are responsible for ourselves and our kids. But we live in a society, and that means that there is at least some shared responsibility among members of this society. I never claimed you were wrong, I claimed I agreed with you, but I offered a line of thinking that backs the authors point in the book for contemplation primarily because I recently contemplated a very similar line of thinking.

Re:Agree / Disagree (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | 1 year,10 days | (#45106831)

"Wait, you have a TV Show during prime time? Radio show? Yes, I am being a smart ass because you either completely miss the concept of advertising and how we are forced to listen to it, or choose to ignore a presented reality. I don't care how many people "you" sit and talk to about the dangers of technology unless you can hit the volume that every TV News caster does when they state "Follow us on Twitter" or "Follow us on Facebook"."

Are you incapable of having a discussion without making offensive personal comments? It is starting to seem so. I have tried to keep my end of the discussion to generalizations about people, rather than being insulting.

"Again with the me and you thing? Really, I opened showing the perspective I was looking at. Your Well, I also thought it was pretty clear that I meant "you" in a generic, non-personal sense seems a bit wishy washy, or is it only you that is allowed to make generalizations?"

No, I am DISAGREEING with you. You wrote "we". I, in effect, was saying "You, maybe, but leave me out of it." I DISAGREE that it affects US the same. If you mean something generically, why don't you use the word "people", or "most people" or some such, rather than "we", "us", and "you"?

In my initial reply, I used "you" because you used "we" and "our". When you do that, you are not being generic, you are specifically including yourself AND your readers. But I do not accept that I should be included in your little group of "we". Are WE clear on this point?

"Using 'you' in the form of attack like "It's your own damn fault" is still an attack on "me". Claiming it's a generalization like "they" or "those people" after the fact is not a correction."

Repeat: I used "you" because you had used "we" and "our". Those are usually considered INCLUSIVE terms unless your generalization is extremely broad: "We have 4 limbs. We live on Earth". Even then it is not necessarily true of all people.

I was trying to make a point. Way back in your original post, you didn't write "people", or "they". You used "we" and "our". I was disassociating myself from that group. You (again this time meant personally) cannot reasonably use terms like "we" and "our" as all-inclusive, then complain about my use of "you" in a similar sense. That's just ridiculous.

You wrote "we don't know how" and "Know what mushrooms and tree bark you can eat?" and "Governments have become as dependent on the same technology as you and I have."

But then you have a fit when someone else does exactly the same, in order to make a point.

"Most schools don't have Home Ec requirements any more. Most schools don't have Shops any more, at least not in the two States where my kid went to school."

As I stated earlier, the schools around here do. I do not pretend to speak for those in your area or areas. Nor should you pretend to speak for mine.

"It seems that there is some very confusing dialogue on your end. When I use a generalization you take it as a personal attack. When I mentioned advertising, you claimed 'you' are not impacted."

Generalization? Hmmm... "Governments have become as dependent on the same technology as you and I have." does not seem so much like a generalization to me. It says "you" and "I". But if it *IS* a generalization as you claim, then why can it not also be a generalization when *I* say "you"??? You (personally) cannot have that both ways. I won't speak for you, but I definitely am not confused. (Just to be clear, since it seems to be necessary, "you" and "I" in that last sentence refer to you, the individual, and I, the individual.)

"I'm claiming that we do have massive corporations at least appearing to try and make people dependents."

People. In general. Yes. I cannot honestly argue with this.

"We have a Government mandated education system that is facilitating that dependency on technology, and an advertising system reinforcing those teachings."

Again I do not disagree. It seems we are saying more-or-less the same thing. We simply seem to have had an issue over my claim that the people, or "consumers" in general, do have some control over that, if they would just exercise it. Other than that, it appears to have just been a matter of semantics.

Such a tale (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103857)

"In other words, The Circle isnâ(TM)t much of a cautionary tale for the broader world"

No, the review makes it sound more like a tale deliberately written not so much as a cautionary one as a semi-political screed designed mostly to vent their authors opinions while appealing to certain tinfoil hat crowd.

Re:Such a tale (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45103907)

You make it sound as if it were something that should have been talked about on Fox News.

Re:Such a tale (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104227)

Don't be such a Circle jerk!

Re:Such a tale (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104345)

As in many other things, Shakespeare [wikipedia.org] got it right: " It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying nothing."

But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103905)

90% of the parties I attend have been set up by someone on Facebook. If it wasn't for Facebook, I'd miss nine out of ten parties my friends were throwing. (As opposed to the half I miss now due to conflicting obligations or not feeling like going.)

While the dire warnings in the book have some merit, we should also recognize that there are legitimate tools and uses in our social media and not discount it wholesale. (I always call Facebook the junk food of the Internet. Even junk food can have a few fortified vitamins tossed in there.)

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | 1 year,11 days | (#45103949)

Because aside from Facebook, there is no other way to be notified of upcoming parties, right?

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104011)

The other 10% of parties the GP attends have hosts that notify their guests using non-Facebook-based methods.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104037)

Because aside from Facebook, there is no other way to be notified of upcoming parties, right?

You can choose not to use Facebook if you'd like, but you can't force your entire social circle to switch back to Cc:ing everyone e-mail invitations. With younger generations, it may be that they've never used e-mail for that purpose to begin with. Facebook and SMS are pretty much the only means one can hear what is going on.

I've taken steps to delete my Facebook account, but when I asked friends to keep in touch with me through e-mail instead, they didn't really understand my choice and they clearly consider such a request a hassle. (Yeah, yeah, cue standard Slashdot misanthrope response about how no one needs friends that refuse to use platform X anyway).

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104195)

That's the situation I faced when I disabled my Facebook account. Unless someone sent me a text message or alerted me to the thing happening (or I got an old fashioned snail mail invitation as happens with formal events like weddings or baby showers), I wouldn't find out about it until after it was over and got the inevitable, "Oh man, we had a great time, you should have been there!"

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (1)

komodo685 (2920329) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104887)

I'm in my twenties, never used facebook or myspace, I stay in touch via phone calls or text. That being said I have less interest than most in staying in touch, others may find a social website necessary.

With younger generations, it may be that they've never used e-mail for that purpose to begin with.

I haven't. Never even thought about it, I'd rather use my cell phone.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45105517)

Switch back to e-mail? When I was a teen, not only we didn't have Facebook, but we even didn't have e-mails... and I'm pretty sure we had more parties than the current generation.

Re: But what if you use it to coordinate real life (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45106029)

Your comment is excellent and your motive noble.
The difference you need to emphasize is between contact/acquaintance and friend.
"Loneliness is a crowded room" (Bryan Ferry). Describes a person with Facebook "friends". My advice: get real friends. That's the difference. Hint: virtual is NOT real.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (2)

Princeofcups (150855) | 1 year,11 days | (#45106437)

You can choose not to use Facebook if you'd like, but you can't force your entire social circle to switch back to Cc:ing everyone e-mail invitations.

Is this a fucking joke? People had parties before the internet, you know. A couple of phone calls and a run out for snacks is all that it takes. I'd argue that texting and Facebook make the process a lot more complicated than it needs to be, or should be.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104813)

I use smoke signals and telepathy to setup all my parties.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104111)

90% of the parties I attend have been set up by someone on Facebook. If it wasn't for Facebook, I'd miss nine out of ten parties my friends were throwing. (As opposed to the half I miss now due to conflicting obligations or not feeling like going.)

While the dire warnings in the book have some merit, we should also recognize that there are legitimate tools and uses in our social media and not discount it wholesale. (I always call Facebook the junk food of the Internet. Even junk food can have a few fortified vitamins tossed in there.)

Uh-huh.

You know how we used to organize parties before facebook? We'd turn to our buddies (who were all in the same room together) and say, "Hey, we should get some booze and have a party!" At most, somebody would run down to the nearest Kinko's, print out a handful of flyers, and go canvas the local college campuses. In other words, it was easy to get one going because you were already directly engaged with your peers, not sitting behind a computer screen, alone, waiting for an IM.

The irony of a decidedly anti-social mechanism (facebook) being considered essential to the organization of a social event (party) is not lost on this guy.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104185)

We'd turn to our buddies (who were all in the same room together)

How did you manage to get all your buddies in the same room together? And is there something preventing Facebook users from doing it?

College roommates (1)

tepples (727027) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104797)

How did you manage to get all your buddies in the same room together?

By paying thousands of dollars per year for college.

And is there something preventing Facebook users from doing it?

Those who kept their Facebook accounts after graduation are not certain to have both the time and the money to go back for a master's.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104219)

But Facebook lets you go to parties with girls! Real ones!

If there is a 20-sided die anywhere in the building, you are NOT at a party, and NO girls are coming later.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104245)

I hate Facebook. Hate it passionately, almost violently in fact. You literally could not pay me enough to use it.

That said, if you think using Facebook means "sitting behind a computer screen, alone, waiting for an IM", then - you know what? There's no point in even completing that thought, because you don't actually think that's what it means. You just made that up because you find it easier to knock down strawmen than honestly argue on the facts. You lied, in short.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104521)

90% of the parties I attend have been set up by someone on Facebook.

In other words, 90% of the parties you attend are held by idiots.

And why would you want to go to parties held by idiots ?

Because you have so much in common with them.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104913)

If you think using Facebook makes someone an idiot, you're a bigger idiot than you accuse them of being.

And just so you know: I hate Facebook, have never had an account on it, and in fact block all of its domains on my router just to make sure I never even get cookies or images from them. So you don't get to fall back on some bullshit "facebook fanboi" defense (and yes, that IS what you were about to do).

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45106575)

You're forgetting to account for all the parties your "friends" are throwing that they never tell you about.

Re:But what if you use it to coordinate real life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45108111)

That's just it. The author complains that companies like that are very intrusive. Tell me, if you chose to, could you reduce the amount of data they receive about you?
Of course you could. These companies sell services, and that's about it. Content, user data, everything they claim to own, is generated by users. Directly, and indirectly, it's users that control how much the companies know about them.
What the author wants, is government control over what and how much data is gathered, constitutionally impossible in a lot of countries, and hard to concieve from a technical view point.

The only way to win is not to play (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104055)

I don't need a bridge to drive into - I just avoid all this stuff and I'm perfectly happy. No pop culture, no DRM or walled gardens, no social media. I don't think life is any the worse for ignoring all that.

Thanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104199)

Thank you. I'm going to buy a copy of Dave Smegger's Circle Jerk right now!

Erm, and his book is a bumbling and ill-formed satire on the invasive, monolithic beast he imagines the tech industry to be. Yep.

A++++++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104215)

Drove straight off bridge immediately after reading this review at highest speed possible. Would do so again without hesitation if sanity required it. Also might actually read the book, IF I CAN TEAR MYSELF AWAY FROM FACEBOOK FOR 5 oh nevermind.

lessons? (1, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104697)

You can't learn "lessons" from a fictional story because it doesn't actually reflect reality; it reflects the fears and opinions of its author.

If you read a book written by a Luddite, you can't "learn the lesson that technology is bad", you simply acquire his prejudices and fears.

Re:lessons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45105315)

Are you purposely being dense? Are you really implying that its impossible to teach intangible things like theory?

I'm not implying that this guy's book has lessons to teach because I haven't read it, but I have learned a great many lessons from the Hitchhiker's guide as well as Vonnegut short stories.

Its almost as if the thought and ideas in their stories are taken from real life or something...

Re:lessons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45106011)

Are you purposely being dense? Are you really implying that its impossible to teach intangible things like theory?

Are you purposely being dense? "Theory" is something that you can derive and verify on its own.

Its almost as if the thought and ideas in their stories are taken from real life or something...

Sometimes they are. Often, they simply represent bigotry, prejudice, or ignorance on the part of the author.

Therefore, a work of fiction doesn't 'teach lessons", which are about conveying factual truth. It may get you to think about a topic, but that's rather different.

Re:lessons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45107481)

I think you are splitting hairs. Can you learn something from fiction? I personally think you can.

Hubris? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#45104701)

who think their software will effortlessly change the world for the better.

And there's your source of hubris.

Also a confict of interest when making million bucks from an IPO comes to view.

Really? (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | 1 year,11 days | (#45104861)

"That the world would accept something like the Circle’s omnipresent software without debate, of course, is the most far-fetched of the book’s assumptions."

What?!? The world already has accepted something like the Circle. Those of us that don't use FB are very few and far between and get harangued as Luddites for not using it. To most of the twenty-somethings and younger, FB IS THE INTERNET.

Fuck so-called "social media" (1)

kheldan (1460303) | 1 year,10 days | (#45106823)

Fuck Facebook, fuck Google, fuck all "social media", it's all bullshit and is ultimately used to invade your privacy; delete it all. People who claim to be your "friends" who won't be bothered to use other means to contact you weren't really your friends in the first place, so fuck them, too. Real friends will call you on the phone or at least send you an email.

Social media is freedom killer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45107529)

Social media is freedom killer financed and promoted by statists and corporates. It reminds me of "America Online" kind of network.

If you are believer in freedom everything must be done to either avoid (or discredit) Facebook and these Google services (Search Engine, adWords, Gmail, Analytics, Android, Youtube, Glass), Apple (IOS, iPhone, MacOSX) and Microsoft (all their products).

If you don't believe this is possible look at Microsoft (and IBM) fall from grace. This day will come quickly.

The future is for things like I2P http://is.gd/Rj6IeR and MYU http://is.gd/Ja2oWr (help promote freedom).

DRM-free ebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,10 days | (#45107263)

Does anyone know where an Australian can acquire a DRM-free ebook of The Circle? Other than The Pirate Bay?

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