Publicness

Fred Wilson – bless his heart – blogs on my book, saying nice things (“It’s a good read, perfect for a flight. It’s not too dense, full of great quotes and insights. I’m enjoying it.”) and he pulls out one of the ideas that fascinates me most, one I’m thinking about writing on again: publicness.

It starts with Catarina Fake telling how she and Stewart Butterfield made a fateful and wise decision when they started Flickr and “defaulted to public.” Then Fred retells the story I have in the book of Mark Zuckerberg and his Tom Sawyer moment in an art class: how public interaction helped an entire class. Next, Fred quotes a commenter who had a similar story about a class working through problems in front of the entire class (though the school stupidly requiring killing the product of this work).

Here’s the lovely irony: Because Fred discusses this publicly and because he has wonderful discussions o his blog, there are more good ideas and viewpoints: a debate about whether Facebook is really public because we can control and restrict our publics here; discussion about competition and secrets; opinions about the foolishness of erasing knowledge; more talk about the value of secrecy vs. execution; a neat thought about the positive pressure of publicness; how publicness – being first to an idea shared in public – can lead to thought leadership.

The double irony for me is that the book itself isn’t public yet. Fred shared a bit of it in public and that is what lead to this discussion. I can’t wait for it to be public – though, of course, books are only so public since they are sold. We’ll be putting some of the book online – I need to talk with the publisher this week about what exactly that will be – and I hope we’ll test the limits of the benefits of publicness.

  • http://paradox1x.org Karl

    Heads up – a special section posted to NYTimes on entrepreneurship across higher education.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/education/edlife/innovationmain-t.html?ref=edlife

    It sounds like something your program should be mentioned in highly.

  • http://TheNumerati.net steve baker

    Jeff, I think a lot of us are simply finding ourselves in “publicness” as the walls around us continue to fall down. I, for one, am expecting a surge in publicness in the coming year. More and more of us will be held aloft (at least we can hope) by a Web of friendships and connections.
    Good luck getting your publisher to release big chunks online. Not that I won’t buy it anyway.