Exeter, Devon UK • May 21, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit The Bookshelves of Zoom: You Are What You Read

The Bookshelves of Zoom: You Are What You Read

Online Arts and Literature Editor, Lucy Aylmer, discusses the value of bookshelves in framing conference calls and the new digitalised office politics
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The Bookshelves of Zoom: You Are What You Read

Image: Radu Marcusu

Online Arts and Literature Editor, Lucy Aylmer, discusses the value of bookshelves in framing conference calls and the new digitalised office politics

Just over a month ago, office life turned digital. Some commuters breathed a sigh of relief; no more sweaty commutes on the tube. Others were more sceptical and feared that the joys of domesticity would soon rub off after the tenth batch of burnt cookies had been baked.

With the rise of working from home, the video conferring app Zoom has enabled colleagues to continue with business as usual and retain some semblance of the economy, albeit a suffering one. Obtaining the perfect backdrop has, in my opinion become a chief concern for many working professionals.

Retaining standards that draw parallels with the office is important in preventing domestic descent and kitchen anarchy

A blank wall is not going to cut it, or indeed the mountain of washing up from last night’s dinner. Serious thought is required for framing a video call. Fake or untruthful to real life it may sound, but professionalism is key in a crisis. Retaining standards that draw parallels with the office is important in preventing domestic descent and kitchen anarchy.

Simple watching of the BBC News will provide sufficient inspiration for any working professional seeking to adjust the literal lens for which colleagues view them. From personal observations, variety has included the chaotic, slightly bohemian approach to book organisation (or lack of) which involves randomly stacking books with no apparent order, to highly regimented shelves with a finely balanced ratio of fiction, highbrow and the suspiciously clichéd classics. Bookshelves are the epitome of virtual prestige and the medium through which it is now presented. Ultimately, books are the building blocks of knowledge and make or break our opinions, values and beliefs and therefore are integral to our identity.

The silence of the bookshelf and the well acclaimed content can do the talking

The predictable, yet carefully curated bookshelf has been deployed as a suitable backdrop for many conference calls; an easy way of exerting soft power in the now digitalised office politics. Subtle projections of intellect can be boasted through the casual placement of the Odyssey next to Hillary Mantel’s latest novel, perhaps followed by Art in Renaissance Italy, just to really put the icing on the cake. Gone are the days of ineffective office jargon, that no one really understands but yet incessantly uses.The establishment of legitimacy and knowledge need not be deployed through blowing hot air, instead the silence of the bookshelf and the well acclaimed content can do the talking.

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