Posts about reviews

Public Parts reviewed

I have to brag about some very nice reviews of Public Parts that — thank goodness — get what I am trying to say.

The first from Adam Thierer in Forbes.

Is privacy overrated?

That’s the provocative question at the core of Jeff Jarvis’ new book, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live. While he ultimately concludes it isn’t, Jarvis makes a powerful case for re-framing the way we think about privacy, and for better appreciating the benefits of “publicness” in the information age. . . .

Certainly, everyone values their privacy to some extent. But who will stand up for the value of “publicness,” or the benefits that come “from being open and making the connections that technology now affords?” Jarvis makes that his mission in Public Parts. . . .

He explains how publicness improves interpersonal relationships, empowers communities, strengthens social ties, enables greater collaboration, promotes transparency and truth-seeking, and helps enliven deliberative democracy, among many other things. Innovations in information technology—the printing press, cameras, microphones, and now search engines and social networking—have always spawned new privacy tensions, he correctly notes. Ultimately, though, they also bring tremendous benefits. The Internet revolution and all the angst that it entails is just the latest in this reoccurring cycle. We’re going through the same growing pains our ancestors did with previous technologies and it’s important not to overreact. . . .

What Jarvis has done in Public Parts is to force us to have a serious conversation about these trade-offs. Some will bristle at the notion that privacy “rights” should be balanced against any other right or value. If we desire the benefits of a more open and transparent society, however, it is a conversation we need to have.

Niall Firth in New Scientist writes:

How do we define what is public and what is private? What are the benefits and dangers of living a life in which everything is shared? Jarvis explores these questions and more in his immensely readable, chatty style. . . .

From revolutions in the Middle East to how some businesses are slowly coming to embrace “publicness”, technology is enabling the sharing of information, the digital conversation, like never before in history. No one knows what’s going to happen next. But people like Jarvis are having fun making sense of these confusing early years.

And friend Stephen Baker, author of The Numerati and Final Jeopardy, says he wanted to write a book like Public Parts himself. He examines the value of secrets.

I’ve been reading Jeff Jarvis’ new manifesto, Public Parts. It’s a very welcome rebuttal to the concerns of privacy advocates. Jarvis, while making it clear that some of their concerns are warranted, focuses on the other side of our relationships online: sharing with others, and connecting with them.

I wish I had this book when I went on my Numerati book tours, in ’08 and ’09. I would talk about the future of the data economy, and everywhere I went, people would ask me about privacy. My stock response back then was that in the industrial age, we were regarded as identical dots, or perhaps as vast herds, and now companies were learning to look at us as individuals. Was that necessarily a bad thing?

But Jarvis focuses on the advantages of being public.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Fortune reviews Public Parts

Fortune’s Jessi Hempel writes a wonderful review of Public Parts, I’m proud to say.

“Privacy has its advocates. Jeff Jarvis has made himself an advocate for publicness. In Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way we Work and Live, the original Internet optimist argues that if we become too obsessed with guarding all personal information on the ‘Net, we’ll miss important opportunities that come with making information available.

“It’s a refreshing take on a topic often covered by people who feel that the Internet — and in particular, social networks like Facebook and the vast amount of personal data that flow within them — threatens to imperil our children and undermine our society. . . . .

“His book is not so much a rallying cry for tweeting your breakfast choices and blogging your company financials as it is a field guide for how to navigate this new technology with optimism rather than fear.”

Now more than ever

Friend Stephen Baker, author of the wonderful The Numerati, wrote a kind review of What Would Google Do?, eloquently summarizing its key message and also making a point I hope others see: that now more than ever, in the midst of crisis and permanent change, we should look to companies that see the world in new ways. Steve wrote:

It’s full of ideas, and it’s perfectly timed for the economic storm we’re experiencing right now. The way Jarvis sees it, most of our industries and institutions developed in a time of information constraints. People made money or achieved power, whether in publishing, banking, insurance or education, by leveraging the information they had access to. They profited from scarcity.

Information, in the age of Google and the Internet, is no longer scarce. It no longer takes time to travel from one place to another. Knowledge no longer requires the movement of atoms. Our brains are linked. That is the revolution Jarvis describes. Of course, we’ve all been aware of these changes brewing since the dawn of the Internet. But Jarvis does a very good job pulling it all together. Readers of his blog will be familiar with many of his arguments, from his push for transparency, links and “publicness” to “small is the new big.” But the book forces him to synthesize more than on the blog, and to tie these phenomena together.

Jarvis was at work on this book before our economy dive-bombed. But as I mentioned, our economic situation makes the book more relevant, not less. This economy is on its way to tearing down the inefficient structures built in the age of scarce information. Understanding and adapting to the forces he describes are no longer simply competitive issues. For many–journalism and publishing are front and center–it’s a matter of survival.

(I might add here that the Numerati are leading actors in this drama. The information revolution he describes creates the rivers of data they feed on. And there are no bigger Numerati on earth than the triumvirate running Google, a company entirely built on the analysis of data and the statistical correlations between what we’re looking for and the advertisements most likely to interest us.)

Thank you, Steve.


I don’t intend to quote every review What Would Google Do? gets but I can’t resist this one from Michelle
Archer in USA Today, short and sweet:

Blogger/columnist Jeff Jarvis’ treatise on how — and why — companies should think and act like Google brings to mind several trite words from the world of literary criticism: eye-opening, thought-provoking and enlightening.

There’s something for everyone in What Would Google Do? For newbies still struggling to comprehend the Internet, Jarvis puts it in context. For floundering industries, Jarvis suggests reforms via Google’s philosophy or strategies employed by entities such as Facebook and And for people and groups hoping to launch the next big Google, Jarvis takes a page from Craigslist’s Craig Newmark: Make something useful, help people use it and then get out of the way.

: Craig Newmark, a humbler man than most, quotes the review but takes out the reference to himself.