An Open Call for Anonymous Connections

21 Mar
2008

I am not a fan of technology. I appreciate what it can do (and does!), but I am far from an unbridled fan. Things like social networks and instant messaging, while I can appreciate, also make me angry. People talk about being ‘so connected’ and about ‘becoming a source’ but I see it as ‘disconnecting the vital face to face connection.’ Multiple studies have shown that in a conversation, less than 10% of your meaning is conveyed in the actual words spoken. The rest are conveyed in tone and in body language. You can try to replicate tone via emoticons ( :) *giggles* /sarcasm etc ) but body language is nigh impossible. To make a true connection (one of the top over-abused words in social networking) you must meet face to face. Instant messaging can also be great – but also a curse. Chatting with multiple people, distracted by the ‘next’ conversation – if you want filler talk, sure it works. If you want to direct employees – sure it works. If you want a real conversation – an absolute failure.

Recently, I was talking to a friend, and he gave me a book. He told me to read it – that it was a “fun little book” that waxed between imaginative and philosophical at the same time. I read it pretty quickly (two days, it was indeed a light book), and I felt inspired.

I love books. I am sure print is going down, and newspapers and book publishers are ‘struggling’ as their margins decrease. But money is still there. Profit is still there. Nothing beats a nice solid book – the smell of the pages, the texture of the cover, the excitement of turning over a page.

So I read that book, I felt inspired, and then I sat down and thought. I wanted my wife to read this book (she is currently in Argentina for six more weeks). But I didn’t want her to bring back the book. Instead I wanted the book to continue on its own journey. Just like I have my journey, and my wife has hers, so should the book! So I scribbled a little note in the book. The gist was simple:

By chance, this book fell into my lap. I read it, I learned from it, and I loved it. But a book just sitting idly on a bookstand is a sad book indeed. So – I will mark that I’ve read this book, and I will pass it on. And I ask that you, whoever is reading it, do the same. Mark your name, read it, and pass it on. Do not include personal information – reading the book and having passed it on will be our link.

And so tomorrow the book will be on her way. There she will give it to one of her new friends, who will then travel around the world with it. And they will continue this cycle. And the book will continue its journey, connecting people in ways they could not imagine.

I try to read two books a month – one fiction, one non-fiction. But I will only pass on books that deserve to be read again and again. And I hope others can follow this. I have no grand illusions of everyone doing this – in fact, if everyone did do it, it would ruin the magic.

My ultimate goal of course would be one day, 10 years from hence, when meeting someone new, we would share that we once had a book and due to the force of a little inscription, had passed it on. That would be a grand ‘connection’ indeed.

6 Responses to An Open Call for Anonymous Connections

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Dave

March 21st, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I love the idea. But probably the book publishers (and authors) won’t. :)

I actually haven’t bought a book (for myself) in several years. I mostly borrow from the library (and they tend to not like people marking up their books) or from others I know. From now on, if the original owners (of non-library books) are willing, I will try your idea and pass them along to start their own journeys.

Although I am not so sure that a lot of those books deserve to be read again and again. Most of them I would not be interested in reading again (and I’m the kind of person who likes re-reading great books- I’ve probably read The Lord of the Rings trilogy 20+ times!).

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Ahmed

March 21st, 2008 at 6:46 pm

I didn’t clarify, but not ALL books would be passed on. Some just don’t work. Eg I read an excellent biography on Tony Zinni that was co-written by Tom Clancy. It was mightily interesting.

But – would I pass it on? No. Some books deserve it, some don’t.

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engtech

March 21st, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Sounds like bookcrossing.com

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Chris

March 21st, 2008 at 7:35 pm

>> I have no grand illusions of everyone doing this – in fact, if everyone did do it, it would ruin the magic<<
There’s nothing less magical about spreading knowledge, especially for free. It entirely sucks that books cost so much that not anyone can afford them. I’ve on some levels been doing something like this for years, until I got an ebook reader. As I travel I leave a trail of novels wherever I go. Sometimes giving them to friends, sometimes leaving them in airplanes or hotels. I don’t know if they’re being read or not, I’m sure some are.

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Ahmed

March 21st, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Indeed like bookcrossing, except that is also a bit more organized and a bit more random (if you can somehow say that).

This is more about building a direct ‘chain’ between people. Keep it tracked. Have a record as to WHY you are spreading the book.

Definitely similar tho, the same friend who gave me that book showed me that link :)

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Andre

March 22nd, 2008 at 7:44 am

Book Club?
last time i read a book was…. high school… sigh where have the times gone.

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