The miniblog* is luring me back. To be honest, I was already toying with the idea of a new project, perhaps a novel in Italian. This would generate a nuanced exploration of different kinds of L2s (contradiction?), which would have been extremely interesting to, well to me anyway.
But then this happened. Mark Zuckerberg is creating a Facebook book club. He is going to read a book every two weeks and then discuss it on a Facebook page. This is his latest “endeavour of the year,’ chosen after crowdsourcing for suggestions. Unlike learning Mandarin or killing one’s dinner mano a mano, this is a task I consider myself equal to. After all, I have both managed Facebook book clubs and followed my own reading schedule. In fact, a book every 2 weeks sounds a little light to me, as my Goodreads profile shows. (Hey! Not boasting, just you know, Leaning In a little there).
I have a feeling this project will have its own challenges. The first selection, The End of Power, is not the sort of book that usually ends up on my Goodreads list. In fact, it is the sort of book that ends up ordered from the library and then leafed through for key points. It would then probably sit on the sofa for 4 weeks as if the author’s wisdom might seep in osmotically as I read mystery novels, before being returned to the library. I may find that the idiom of such books is as alien to me as (and probably less enticing than) Kim Thuy’s French.
However, I am still intrigued by the project: I must confess that Zuck has a certain fascination for me. It was not always this way. After watching The Social Network and (even more) trying to get past the first page of the book on which it was based, I vowed to avoid all things Facebook, repelled as I was by its shallowness and sexism. Later, though, after joining fb myself (pure peer pressure) and finding out more about the man, I realized that things were more complex than I had previously believed.
I am particularly drawn by his quixotic attempts to rid himself of his money. His predicament reminds me a little of that of the protagonist of a David Eggers novel, You Shall Know our Velocity (generally derided by the critics for being gimmicky and self-indulgent, as if those were bad things), who travels from country to country looking for fitting beneficiaries of his extra cash. I appreciate the thought that the tech lords put into spending their wealth. I have read the counter arguments and I understand how dangerous it is for the public good to be in the hands of so few people. Still, I can’t help but see their naive benevolence as superior to the spending habits of most of those at the top of other industries. After all I like to think that were I to suddenly become rich and powerful, I would use my money to fight Ebola rather than to buy a congressman.
So this is what I’m going to do. I’m already following the page A Year of Books. End of Power has been ordered from the library. I’ll start this section of the miniblog with an introduction, an overview of Zukerberg’s project and my reasons for taking part in it. After that, I will simply write about what comes up. I will probably summarize the books and share my reactions to them, but I also want to examine how I am reading, whether my reading strategies are different when I am reading unfamiliar material. I will have a look at the comments on the fb page and see if they offer any interesting talking points. I may even post on the fb page myself, and then link my comments to the blogposts, and maybe then link them back to Teacherpants. Interconnectivity, platforms within platforms — I’m getting that Inception vibe again.