I am about halfway through Dave Eggers new novel The Circle, which follows a young female professional as she starts her career with the number one technology company in the world. The company is basically a mix between Google, Apple, and Facebook.
Dave Eggers is one of my favorite authors, and I was intrigued by the idea of him tackling the topic of technology and our relationship with social media. I have seen some backlash, saying the author got it all wrong, but I don’t think that is totally true.
It is difficult to judge a book – a story – until the ending, but I do have some impressions so far.
There is one thing he got wrong that has been bothering me, and that is the use of the term “cloud,” as in cloud storage. This metaphor has become popular to describe data storage outside of your local computer. I suppose the term may make it easier for some people to understand the concept of where is all that stuff. Yet many of us understand there is no cloud, per se. There are many, many intricate networks of many, many, many servers storing data that are access from devices around the world. The way characters in the story use the term (characters that should know better) describe things as being saved on the company’s cloud. That is linguistically, and technologically awkward, because they may be in the metaphorical cloud, but they are stored on the companies network of servers. Am I nitpicking here? I don’t know. I am an English teacher and a tech-nerd, so I guess this is the result of the combination.
I think many people are taking issue with his portrayal of a large tech company, but really it is all allegory. One thing he got very right, is our relationship to our gadgets and the way we engage through social media. The urgency of notifications, and the excitement of “likes” and “retweets” is well represented by the systems and employees within The Circle. At times, the company feels futuristic, and then there are many other times when you feel like you are looking into a mirror.
I look forward to the second half of the book, after which I will share my final thoughts. Anyone else read the book? What are your thoughts?