Since 2013 I’ve been leading online discussions of some important and interesting books, all around the theme of education, technology, and the future. This has been a fun and, well, educational process. A bunch of us have enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot.
These discussions constitute one form of online book club. That’s because we use social media to share reflections and information about the books. The readings usually follow a schedule, but people can read and respond whenever they like. So far we’ve read a dozen books (scroll down for the list). Some authors have gotten involved as well through Twitter conversations (Malka Older, Tressie McMillan Cottom) or Future Trends Forum videoconferences (available on YouTube: Rich DeMillo, Sara Goldrick-Rab)).
For each reading I’ve blogged my own path through the book, preceded by organizational posts. Other readers have joined in by writing comments on these posts and/or blogging themselves. Each post is tagged, so you can quickly find all posts on a specific title. People have also added comments on other social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, not to mention Goodreads.
Some authors have kindly interacted with us as we read their works. Several have engaged with us via Twitter, like Tressie Cottom and Malka Older. As our book club progressed, some of the authors have been guests on the Future Trends Forum; scroll down on that link and see.
One reader, Kay Oddone, has written a thoughtful analysis of this book club in terms of learning theory.
Why these books? Sometimes they are titles I was interested in and thought significant. At other times the book came up through social media discussion. Our near future science fiction series is the most democratic, with people suggesting and voting on titles from a master list.
Our current reading is New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson. You can find all blog posts and discussion here.
Previous readings include (links are to relevant blog posts):
Cory Doctorow, Walkaway (published 2017; read 2018). A near future science fiction novel that imagines a world divided by class and technology, with utopian hopes. Cory spoke with us on the Future Trends Forum.
Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything (published 2017; read 2018).
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. (published and read 2017)
Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price (published and read 2017)
Miles Horton and Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking (read 2016)
Madeline Ashby, Company Town (published and read 2016)
Malka Older, Infomocracy (published and read 2016).
Ernst Cline, Ready Player One (published 2011, read 2016)
Paulo Bacigalupi, The Water Knife (published 2015, read 2016)
Richard DeMillo, Revolution in Higher Education (published 2015, discussed 2015-16)
Robert Putnam, Our Kids (published 2015, discussed 2015)
Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age (published 2014, discussed 2014)
Rebecca Solnit, River of Shadows (2003; discussed 2014)
Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century (2013; discussed 2014)
I’ve enjoyed seeing other people’s opinions, watching them read from their perspectives and through their interests, just like a book club meeting in someone’s living room. Unlike that living room, we’ve seen people around the world chime in, and do so staggered over time.