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Dave Eggers - The Circle

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Mia Rosenbaum

on 15 December 2014

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Transcript of Dave Eggers - The Circle

The campus
Future or Present?
smile frown zing
“The concerns that underlie The Circle are therefore of long standing, but have been much discussed recently, not only in newspapers and magazines both online and off, but in books. […] In The Boy Kings, a 2012 memoir that chronicles the early days of Facebook, Katherine Losse questioned the desirability of making personal information public.

This, then, is the “real” world to which Eggers holds up the mirror of art in order to show us ourselves and the perils that surround us.”
(Atwood article)
"With mottos like 'All that happens must be known,' and cameras planted around the globe by avid ambassadors of the transparency movement — so that anyone can access any place at any time and 'tyrants cannot hide' — the company turns the world on itself.
Everyone sees with the eyes of God, aided by technology and informed by vast stores of knowledge disseminated through social networks.“ (Luthi article)

"'We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity'" (Delaney article 174)
Cyber Dreams and Nightmares
In which historical context stands this quote?
The Circle
Dave Eggers

smile frown zing
Is the Cyberspace a land of knowledge? Do you think it can be called a frontier?
"'We will create a civilization of the Mind in cyberspace. May it be more human and fair than your governments have made before'" (Delaney 174)
When Carolin Marvin speaks about the fascination of technology what points does she make that are relevant to
The Circle
"'She's in the Old West,' Renata said, focusing on Mae again, 'but she'll be here soon.'
[...] Mae knew the company's practice of naming each portion of the campus after an historical era; it was a way to make an enormous place less impersonal, less corporate." (3-4)
“We are not Google’s customers: we are its product.” (Luthi article)
What do you make of this quote? How can it be related to
The Circle
"She was in command of all this and needed more. The total number of stats she was tracking was only
. There was her aggregate customer service score, which was at
. There was her last score, which was at
. There was the average of her pod, which was at
. There was the number of queries handled that day thus far,
, and the number of queries handled by that time yesterday,
, and the number handled by her on average,
[...]. There was the number of overall visitors to the Circle's sites that day,
billion, and the number of pageviews,
billion. There was the number of friends in Mae's OuterCircle,
[...]" (193)
"'And meanwhile,' Jackie said, 'the crew here at the Protagorean Pavilion has been working to coordinate all student measurements - to make sure that all homework, reading, attendance and test scores are all kept in one unified database. [...] We're inches away from the moment when, by the time a student is ready for college, we have complete knowledge of everything that student has learned. Every word they read, ever word they looked up, every sentence they highlighted, every equation they wrote, every answer and correction. The guesswork of knowing where all students stand and what they know will be over.'" (343)
smile frown zing
"You post a picture of sex slaves in a poor country and your friends “like” the photo and, just like that, you are charity itself. You post a frown to a dictator’s Circle page, and you are taking part in revolution." (Luthi article)
"And, with the tools of the Circle made available, Mae felt able to influence global events, save lives even, halfway across the world." (242)
Do you agree with this statement? Why/why not?
Medical bracelet
Could this be a real world scenario? What does the author mean when she talks about "to see with the eyes of God" ?
"TruYou - one account, one identity, one password, one payment system, per person. There were no more passwords, no multiple identities. Your devices knew who you were, and your one identity - the
, unbendable and unmaskable - was the person, paying, signing up, responding, viewing and reviewing, seeing and being seen. You had to use your real name, and this was tied to your credit cards, your bank [...]" (21)
"It'll collect data on your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, heat flux, calorie intake, sleep duration, sleep quality, digestive efficiency, on and on. [...] [I]t measures galvanic skin response, which allows you to know when you're amped or anxious. [...] It measures the pH level of your sweat, so you can tell when you need to hydrate with alkaline water. It detects your posture, so you know when to reposition yourself. Blood and tissue oxygen, your red blood cell count, and things like step count." (154-155)
The Circle
a digitopia or a dystopia? Or is it both?
Mae? Edward again. Can you reassure Helena that you'll look at her site sometime soon? She's a bit upset now. Just any word of encouragement would be helpful. I know you're a good person and wouldn't intentionally mess with her head, you know, promising to help and then ignoring her.
" (375-376)
"'It's actually very stressful. And we've already had many people get angry when they don't hear back from us in a given amount of time. They send one message, then they send ten more in the same day. [...] So I don't want to imply the kind of immediate message turnaround that most of your friends seem to require." (365)
Is this present in
The Circle
? In which form may it be present?
"In cyberspace the dreams of paradise and the visions of apocalypse are inextricably linked." (182)
How can this be related to the views of Neo-Luddites? Are there examples of Neo-Luddite characters in the novel?
Why do you think people at The Circle employ this practice? What could be the benefit of connecting the Circle campus with the past?
"He who controls the past controls the future and he who controls the present controls the past." (Atwood article)
Do you think that in case of The Circle, the protagonists have been “led down the primrose path much more blindly by [their] good intentions than by [their] bad ones”?
Do you think Mercer has a point when he tells Mae that "You and your ilk will live, willingly, joyfully, under constant surveillance, watching each other always, commenting on each other, voting and liking and sikliking each other, smiling and frowning, and otherwise doing nothing else" ? (367)
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