It is a New Year, time to look ahead to a vast expanse of 12 months full of possibility. A natural optimist, I like the positivity that takes hold during this time of year, when people take stock of the past year and look to the New Year with hope. Last year I resolved to read 12 books in 12 months, and I came very close, completing book 11 on December 22nd. I’ve always tried to have a good book on hand for empty hours, and have always enjoyed reading both fiction and non-fiction.
So imagine my surprise when I saw that Mark Zuckerberg, so ably portrayed onscreen by Jesse Eisenberg, decided to start a book club. He has said that he would like to pick a new book every other week and discuss it through a forum on Facebook. I appreciate that he can encourage people to read something they would otherwise never read. But because it is not Oprah Winfrey, but rather the founder of the world’s biggest social network who is starting this initiative, I am a bit suspicious. Is this about encouraging reading, or mining user data (I suspect the latter is the motive for any move by Facebook)?
One reason I don’t consider myself to be a Millennial (although technically I’m on the older side of this generation) is that the way that I relate to the digital world is so different from the way people just a few years younger than I am do. I’m still wary. I don’t want to publish too much. Also, as someone who works in digital media, I am familiar with the glee with which digital advertising types discuss mining user data to sell users more and better stuff. The more highly targeted, the better. As a marketer, I think it makes perfect sense. As a consumer, I don’t like feeling so trailed. And so I think that, while it’s entirely possible that Mark Zuckerberg has the purest of intentions and wants to turn Facebook into an intellectual hub, I think it’s more likely that this is a further attempt to turn our reading habits (and our comments on said reading habits) into something that can be monetized.
So thank you, Zuck, but I’ll keep my book reading offline.