A One Time Thing

Date Eggers' book The Circle is a fascinating but flawed novel that details a Google or Facebook service that has replaced all types of communication which slowly but surely creeps surveillance into ever part of people's lives. Of course, that kinda already happens, what with my phone and it's GPS tracking, but The Circle goes one step further and adds constant video feeds of people's lives, day to day, as well as a camera that is so small it can't be seen, or found, but wirelessly transmits it's feed across the internet for anyone to watch.

It is an addictive read, despite its flaws which I won't go into here, and one I enjoyed quite a lot. It did touch on one thing that was interesting and key to the world that had been developed in the novel, and that is of selfishness.

In the book the character Mae, a new employee at The Circle, finds her self committing a minor crime that is captured by one of the wireless cameras. Instead of being properly pinished for the crime, she is asked why she had not personally recorded the event. She had taken a canoe out onto the water and watched a stunning sunset whilst seals swam next to her, and her boss asks her why she hadn't recorded the event.

In the books logic it makes a point that the not recorded event was selfishly unshared by Mae and that, because she hadn't saved it, it was lost forever. This part of the books is where I gave into the world, as it resonated with thoughts I'd had myself; the more we scramble to record things, the less we feel that they didn't occur without the recording.

I make this point following the Scottish Album of the Year Award ceremony that I went to o  Thursday there. Ten albums, including some belters, we're up for the award including my very own Boards of Canada. I assumed from the outset that they wouldn't appear, and I wasn't alone in thinking that, and I was also correct. Instead they did a video thank you to the audience and nominators that was interesting, for it was certainly all new video footage, all new never before heard music, and they rarely do anything without thought behind it.

However, upon the video starting it was clear that this was unique. The video stream that was showing the whole ceremony cut out leaving those at home out of the new music. I tweeted about it and quickly it was retweeted across the Internet, and soon it turned up on the Boards of Canada forums, where superfans started to take it all apart, first dismissing it as a hoax, then as a throwaway track before being frustrated at it not being recorded.

One thing that has been read into the lack of it being broadcast is that it must mean something. I was there and it was explicity stated that the video was a gift to "all those who are here tonight" which makes me think that it wasn't a comment on anything other than just a bit of in the moment magic. Why does everything need to be recorded? The brothers who make Boards of Canada music have fabricated an enigma around themselves and they must enjoy it in some parts but it feels like they can't do anything without analysis, and this seemed like a way of commenting of that.

It was fun to see it hear it and take part in it, but I honestly don't know if it was a new EP, a tease of something else, or just literally a onetime unique thing that was engineered to be that way. Either way, I didn't recorded it, and the thought didn't even cross my mind, instead I chose to be in the moments. Others online did record it.

At least that means it definitely happened. I mean, I did just see a unique Boards of Canada track played in front of an audience at the Barrowlands which is something I thought I'd never ever ever say. So there is that.

The Circle on Amazon

The Circle
By Dave Eggers