#Emptyshelf17 #23 The Circle by Dave Eggers

The CircleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I watched the film first – I don’t know if that was a good move or not, as there’s some definite oddities in the film. The book’s much better, and is a real challenge as to who has the power over our knowledge (very Foucauldian), although it came to a rather abrupt end which I found a little less satisfying than the film – although overall a much more believable end! As I’m currently putting together a piece on peer/self-surveillance, I screenshot quite a few pages about the nature of being ‘fully transparent’ and – essentially – the affordances and constraints it places about us, and the price ‘we’ may be prepared to pay for that.

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#EmptyShelf 2016 #27: Mind Games by @TeriTerryWrites (Orchard Books, 2015)

I2016-05-24 20.00.16 spoke at a children’s book event the other year, and this book – Mind Games – was one of the pre-press books that I picked up .. I love teenage books – good moral message, typically fairly fast paced, and always lots to think about.

With echoes of books such as Divergent, this book takes us into a future (post World War 3), in which the world is largely controlled by a large virtual-reality corporation (oh yes, we’ve been having these conversations at many conferences – e.g. does the government or Facebook control more of our lives?). Our main character, Luna (named after a Harry Potter character) is hiding that she is able to always be in the ‘real’ world, when plugged into ‘Realtime’, which pretty much everyone else (aside from a few religious protestors) is plugged into. Lots of secrets to uncover, and lots of questioning as to what is ‘real’, and how much people want to experience ‘reality’, or whether they want to move beyonds the bounds of the physical .. you can see why I enjoyed this one!

An interesting quote re the idolisation of rationality over intelligence:

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#EmptyShelf 2016 #23: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury, 2015)


Mentioning to a friend that I have always enjoyed dystopian/utopian (futurist) fiction (it always seemed to be a staple of my teenage reading, and more recently, books such as The Hunger Games, and TV series such as Black Mirror and Mr Robot), having just re-read the Divergent trilogy, he suggested I should try (and lent me) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.

In brief, Charmaine and Stan, who had been happily employed, mortgaged, and planning for kids, victims of a terrible economic crash, are reduced to living in their car, surviving on tips, having to escape from wherever they’ve parked 3-4 times a night. They then see an advert for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’, in which they’ll be offered regular work, a home of their own – but they’ll need to spend alternate months in a prison cell. Once in, there’s no escape, but they sign straight up, with the first year appearing pretty straightforward, but then they start to become obsessed with their ‘Alternate’, those who live in their house whilst they’re in prison… and life begins to unravel. Echoes of Big Brother and The Truman Show were in my mind whilst reading – control, conformity, and then challenge!

Now awaiting The Handmaid’s Tale to read!


#TandT16 Tools and Trends 2016

Monday evening I enjoyed listening to Martin Bryant discussing tools and trends for 2016 and beyond:

Academic Digital

E-Learning in 2020?

Things are changing rapidly, but I can’t see quite how we’d get to this state in less than 11 years! Interesting idea none the less, and quite amusing…