Book Banter: Playful Conversations

Janet Matthews, January 2023

Lately, my favorite word is “unsubscribe”. Despite trying to manage my unrelenting emails, I had accepted the intrusive nature of technology until I read Jennifer Eagan’s novel, The Candy House. Eagan thrusts the reader into a world of breakthrough technology with interlinked characters who upload their memories to an external hard drive called the Mandala Consciousness Cube.

The concept is haunting and I started questioning, if given the opportunity, would I want to be a voyeur of someone’s mind? This innovative product described in the book -“Own Your Own Consciousness” – would provide access to every memory I’ve ever had in exchange to others’ memories, alive or dead. While this is speculative fiction, there is something unsettling about the trajectory of today’s technology. Perhaps, this reality may be closer than I realize.

Janet Matthews is a National Board and National Geographic Certified Teacher, Fulbright Scholar and recipient of several National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships. Her career spans over three decades during which she served as a middle and high school English Department Curriculum Leader and classroom teacher in the Mount Pleasant Central School District. Her interest in global education has included study programs in all seven continents including a science expedition to Antarctica and a TEACH Fellowship in the Middle East where she had an opportunity to work with the Ministries of Education in Bahrain and Qatar. Currently, Janet works as a learning specialist and STEAM developer for her district. Her academic background includes degrees in Reading, English, and Administration. As a member of the NYSEC Executive Board, she serves as the Friends of Excellence chair and shares her passion for reading as a frequent contributor to Book Banter. Putting tennis aside a little bit this summer, Janet will be exploring the monasteries of Bhutan.

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