As a sometime student of that unstable and disturbing state which we conventionally refer to as civilisation I've long been attracted to simple and direct formulations that capture the zeitgeist of an era in a few choice syllables. The emminent dangers of PG Tips and Liptons is a classic example of course — proper tea is theft — but now rather dated. It was refreshing, then, to come across Dave Eggers' The Circle. Rush out and buy three; and if you're in any way associated with Big Data, social media, data mining or the like please inscribe this book on your soul in letters of flame one foot high.
Eggers' contribution to the shortest-summary-of-the-world competition is
SECRETS ARE LIES
SHARING IS CARING
PRIVACY IS THEFT
The story that frames this Orwellian formulation neatly captures the implications of the new world of internet spying as exposed by Edward Snowden. To those who say "if you've nothing to hide you don't need privacy" The Circle says "here's a camera to put in your bedroom", and follows up with a rich and entertaining exploration of the consequences.
Eggers also wrote Zeitoun — when you've finished The Circle go read that one too. You'll never see canoes the same way again.