Thursday, December 22, 2022

Several People are Typing

  Several People are Typing
Author:  Calvin Kasulke
Publication Information:  Doubleday. 2021. 256 pages.
ISBN:  0385547226 / 978-0385547222

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "gerald"

Favorite Quote:  "it is just like all the time, everywhere, on here
you can scroll and scroll and it won't stop until you do
we call it ephemera or at least I did, before, I called it ephemera and really that's a mistake, it
cheapens it
we love to say the digital is fleeting like a sunset but these scraps of ourselves we fling into the ether will outlive most of us like the sun"

What would happen if we could view some of our work conversations from a different perspective? What would we say differently? What would we see differently? How would we behave differently?

Slack, an instant messaging programs, originated in 2013 in the context of video game development. The objective was to allow coworkers to establish virtual "workspaces" and collaborate via voice, video, files transmission, and most frequently, text messages. It use and popularity expanded to such an extent that it was acquired by Salesforce in 2021 for almost $28 billion.

Gerald works at a New York public relations firm. Slack is a key tool in his work. There is one key problem. Gerald's essence or consciousness is trapped within the virtual world of Slack. His physical body is still in his work-from-home office, but he is not there.

With this premise begins this book. The title is literal. Slack operates with several people typing along different "channels." Gerald is stuck and want to go home.

The villain of the book is Slackbot. Slack itself wishes to keep Gerald in Slack. It, by turn, deflects, detracts, threatens, and attracts. Slackbot becomes a main character in the book.

Of course, it is possible to read into this book grand statements of human-machine interaction and about self-discovery when one steps out of oneself. Gerald is literally outside of himself. It is also possible to read this book as an amusing view on today's communication styles and the connections and disconnections those styles create.

Reader beware. The entire book is written in Slack messages. Many books have attempted to use a different "language" if you will to tell a story. Texts from Jane Eyre imagines text conversations between characters from modern and classical literature. . The History of the World According to Facebook presents what a record of history might have been if Facebook had always existed, and if everyone and everything posted on Facebook. Ian Doescher's Star Wars series reinterpret the original Star Wars trilogy into a Shakespearean play. This book is different in that it tells an original story in this form. There is no frame of reference or comparison. If that is not for you, this is not the book for you.

Parts of the book are laugh out loud funny. However, even at only 250 pages, it feels long. The novelty of the idea and the writing style only carries so far. The self-discovery does happen but predictably so. Ultimately, the book is memorable for its unique setup and an amusing read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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