Monday, February 10, 2014

The Technology of "The Social Code"

Written in 2013, The Social Code by Sadie Hayes features technology as the center point of her plot. The novel features two college freshman siblings who create and market a new iPhone app. As a YA novel, this is a great plot line because of it's relevancy and freshness. The generation that will read The Social Code grew up with iPhones in their hands, so not only is something they are familiar with, but it would be a realistic sounding future for the reader as well. Aside from that, there's also the fact that writing in the most current technology almost guarantees that you are the first to write about it (or at least one of the first). These elements are just two of the reasons that technology as an integral part of the novel worked so well.

However, my question for the future of this novel: What happens when the technology becomes outdated?

My immediate thought is that it will disappear into obscurity. Once the audience has grown up, the next generation will grow up on new technology and will regard this book as irrelevant as we would reading a novel about the creation of the first computer.

That being said, that could be a great story! There's a lot to be learned from historical elements in novels, whether they were historical or current at the time of writing. In fact, a lot of literature has cultural references that are now explained by footnotes so that current audiences can fully understand and appreciate the context.

Back to The Social Code though, Hayes' use of screenshots of various media (texts, PowerPoint slides, emails, online news articles) will date the book even further. I love the element that these screenshots add, the way they can remove the reader from any narrator bias, but for a recent book, it is already starting to look dated with it's 3G iPhone and simplistic PowerPoint slides.  

What was supposed to be an important and impressive presentation made by a college student looks like something I could've whipped up in 15 minutes in high school, before making it a real presentation. With that discrepancy already outdating the book, it will be interesting to see if this book sticks around or gets lost in obscurity.

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