Recently, I read Dave Eggers’ wonderful novel The Circle, which, like every great novel, manages to simultaneously work as a page-turner and as a thought-provoker.
The big ideas behind The Circle focus on privacy in the era of the internet and big data and branch out into the meaning of social networks like Twitter and Facebook and the intrusion and lack of privacy brought on by data collection.
The part that really stuck with me was the question of having to live our lives fully in public. Imagine if every single thing you did was broadcast to the world and anyone could watch it. How would that change your behavior? Would you choose to lay on the couch and watch trash television? Would you eat junk food? Would it improve you… or drive you insane?
(I didn’t find the book perfect, though. I thought that there were many points in the book where people should have been objecting to the societal changes that were happening, but instead they cheered them on and rather ignored some of the negative implications. I know there are tech cheerleaders out there, but it was a little too strong in the book.)
Does a Nest Thermostat Save Money? A One Year Review Several readers have asked me about the Nest thermostat. I haven’t switched, as I’m happy with our current thermostat, but this article makes it sound like the Nest saves a little money, but not enough to recoup the cost. (@ my dollar plan)
The Noguchi filing system This is a really, really clever idea. It relies on our innate sense of how long it’s been since we’ve done something to create a pretty sensible filing system. (@ unclutterer)
How to Select a Good Mutual Fund If you’re struggling with choosing between investments, this is a nice introduction to how to make that choice sensibly. (Most of the content is in video form.) (@ dinks finance)
When Retail Therapy Goes from Bad to Worse Retail therapy is a great way to make the problems you already have worse. It just postpones the crisis and often makes the crisis a bit more challenging. (@ girls just wanna have funds)