Public Parts subtitle help

Friends, I need help choosing a subtitle for Public Parts, my book. You all were helpful with What Would Google Do? (which I initially wanted to call WWGD?, but the publisher fought me and you convinced me the publisher was right). Many of you have already been helpful with great suggestions via Twitter (some inspired some of these candidates).

The book is about the value of publicness. It’s about technology, change, privacy, fear, and protection as well. But I try hard not to pit private against public. Instead, I argue that when we make choices about what to make public or private and how we build the tools and laws that enable or regulate t hat, we need to include in the equation in the benefits of publicness. We also need to protect our new tools of publicness. I interview Mark Zuckerberg, danah boyd, Ev Willliams, Dennis Crowley, Philip Kaplan, Josh Harris, Eric Schmidt, Elizabeth Eisenstein, and more. I explore the history of privacy (and its definitions) and the development of our notions of the public.I also explore the progression of the tools of publicness. It’s a book about choices and optimism. I also talk about lessons from my public life. And saunas. (My editor, @bloehnen, will write much better jacket copy than that, but it gives you an idea.)

Here’s the shortlist of subtitles (not listed in any order so as not to prejudice you with the preferences of me and my editor and publisher). The main title, Public Parts, I already like (and, yes, it’s a bit of an homage to Howard Stern). Please weigh in with a discussion in the comments. If you have a new suggestion, what the hell, by all means add that. And if you have a great idea for imagery, that’s next.

An Exposé

[Hat tip to @chrisgordon77]

What Happens When Companies, Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out

(Variations: Should “people” be “all of us” or “individuals” or “you”?)
[Hat tip to @txhoudini for inspiration]

If We’re So Worried About Privacy, Why Do We Share a Billion Times a Day?

(Variation: take off the first clause)

Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity

The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society

Exposing Ourselves for Fun, Profit, and a Brighter Future
[Hat tip to @zekeweeks]

Thank you!

: Oh, and no plug would be complete without telling that Public Parts will be out in the fall from Simon & Schuster.

  • What about…

    Public Parts: If you’ve got it… Flaunt it.

  • Dean Bain

    private fears

    • I like this one!

      • What about
        Public Parts – “the end of privacy”

        Did WWGD have a subtitle? Does PPs need one.

        If i had to choose it would be:

        What Happens When Companies, Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out

        OR MY ***VARIATION***

        What Happens When People organize themselves

        , Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out

  • Miko

    I know you weren’t/aren’t a big fan of it but when I heard it, I loved, “What Happens When Companies, Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out”.

  • Why All the Naughty Bits Are Now Out in the Open, and What You Can Do About It

    How Howard Stern Became Lady Gaga (And So Can You!)

  • a big fan of the second suggestion. could it be simplified to just ‘what happens when we let it all hang out?’

  • Brian Joyce

    I’m with Leo… Let it all hang out!

  • maryann dolbeare

    Really like this one,

    If We’re So Worried About Privacy, Why Do We Share a Billion Times a Day?

  • Paul Sherman

    I like

    The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society

    • Holly M

      I agree. Think it’s important to have “the public sphere” in the title, and feels crisp, dignified, and forward-looking.

      • I like Paul’s suggestion and my own suggestion — Public Parts – The end of privacy as we know it

        • Ah, but I’m not saying it is the end of privacy. We’ll likely end up with more protections than ever. It’s the dawn of something else. That’s what I keep grappling with in tittles. I don’t want to say we shouldn’t worry about privacy or that it’s dead. I’m saying I don’t want to overworry it, I suppose.

        • I think that’s why ‘What Happens When We Let It All Hang Out’ is so great. It doesn’t imply a negative or a positive.

    • Chad Kohalyk


    • Drew Herrick

      Agreed but depends on the target audience. This subtitle seems significantly more academic and highlights the intellectual ancestry of the book (e.g. Habermas).

      The others seem more kitschy and, perhaps, more marketable.

  • With that said, of the given shortlist I’m a fan of “What Happens When Companies, Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out”

    Also, some type of a play on technological exhibitionism would be fun. Loved WWGD by the way, plethora of great ideas for those looking into a startup

    • ibookery

      ‘Exhibitionism in the Digital Realm’ How to expose yourself in the warm comfort of tech anonymity.

  • First pick: “An Exposé.” You’re both selling a book and performing much-needed public etymology triage that way!

  • Olle Benner

    The open fly

    • Bevan Thornton

      The fly or zipper. There’s something here! Maybe people could brain storm around this.
      It’s that awkward moment, that one that almost doesn’t exist anymore, when you’re not sure how to make your observation known other than through a network.
      Just a thought.

      I like-
      Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity

  • Public Parts: The Citizen’s New Clothes

    • Cool

    • This is a very good one!

      I also like “Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity” because of the contrasting emotions invoked. (I get an image in my head of a gerbil on a wheel, running frantically in one direction, then spinning around to run just as frantically in the opposite direction.)

  • ismael

    Public Parts.
    We are the managers of our lives and our minds.

  • I like “Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity” (and I can’t wait to read the book).

  • Public Parts
    Why the Choice to ‘Show You Mine’ is Good for Society

  • I like #2. Also, sign me up for a pre-order Kindle download!

  • If more people will choose a book with an optimistic tone to the title, then go with “Exposing Ourselves for Fun, Profit, and a Brighter Future”.

    My next preference is for “What Happens When Companies, Governments, and Individuals Let It All Hang Out”, but that seems somewhat too wordy.

    The others sound more appropriate for an academic tome with a limited specialist audience, rather than the broader audience that you are shooting for. (I know lots of people who *should* read Public Parts, but who would not pick up a book of this nature generally.

    • good analysis.

      • Bevan Thornton

        Good point! I’ve been swayed.

        “Exposing Ourselves for Fun, Profit, and a Brighter Future”.

  • Public Parts: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Howard Stern

    • Have to admit- I was amused by that one- but not so sure for a book title. (if the book isn’t stern-o-centric ;-) )

      “How the ugly truth will set us all free” (or could set us?) Would be my addition to the list (even though your post was trying to narrow it down.)

      Looking forward to reading- I’ve always felt that while it might be more difficult in the short term dealing with the repercussions of our mistakes and intentional wrong doings-in the long run we’d be far better off if we owned them. Blame my HS English teachers for making me read The Scarlet Letter and Ode on a Grecian Urn. :-)

  • Let it all hang out, I like “people” versus other options.

  • I like number 5. Mentioning the public sphere and new society is intriguing.

    • Craig Roth

      I agree with michelle. Presenting the term “the public sphere” as early as possible (in this case, on the cover) is a good move. Number 5 also refers to “the private self” without any kind of fear mongering (present the fear, sell the product) that Jeff noticed at a privacy conference a couple weeks back. All in all, it’s a very hopeful yet intriguing title.

      I’ll mix two others on the list for my next preference: “Letting It All Hang Out For Fun, Profit, and a Brighter Future”

  • My vote is with “Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity”

  • Kevin

    “A Pixelated future?”

  • “The Citizens’ New Clothes,” suggested above, is worth considering. Of those you propose in the post, “The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society” is the only suitable option – though I find “the private self” awkward. What about “Privacy, the Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society”? Or, since you’ve got “Public” explicity and “Private” implicitly in the main title, and since that title is itself playful, why not simple “Principles for a New Society” or some more specific variant of that? I think the latter option would have the most force.
    Looking forward to reading.

  • I like “If We’re So Worried About Privacy, Why Do We Share a Billion Times a Day?”

    • Kay

      I like this one also. Why DO people share a billion times a day? I really want an answer to that. All I wish known about me is my birth date and death date, all the rest of my life is private. Why would I want to know what you eat or where you go or who you see? Why? I do not understand, but then I am 75 years old.

  • Suggest connecting it to the revolutions happening in the middle east and by the time the book is out elsewhere. Publicness is revolutionary.

  • Rick Thomason

    Public Parts: Exposure Without Fear of Arrest

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  • GZ

    … If you use the first one change it to ALL OF US. Other thoughts…
    “The Friend Me Generation & what happens when we let it all hang out”
    “Click here to change your privacy settings of life”

  • Public Parts: Because we only trust the people who’ve seen us naked.

  • Vince Donald

    Public Parts: The end of the silent majority

    • Vince Donald

      Or Public Parts: We were the silent majority.

      • Brent Longborough



        Public Parts
        (Formerly Silent Majority)


  • David

    I like the play on words with “bits” meaning both naughty bits and ones-and-zeros. Like “Public Parts: What happens when we stop hiding our bits” or something like that.

  • Ronald Stepp

    Public Parts: Seeing Is Believing.

  • Joe

    I like something that says “Public Parts – The new privacy rules in an open world”

    or “Public Parts – Privacy in a open world”

    or off the wall Public Parts – Privacy was so last decade. :)

    I vote for number 3 “PUBLIC PARTS
    The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society”

    Can’t wait for the book!

  • Jeff
    I love two of the proposed so would like to propose a merge of sorts from
    Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity
    The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society

    to create…
    Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity in our New Society

    The use of words such as Fear, Opennnes and New are key for me. Looking fwd to tyour new book.

    PS I would like to take this opportunity to say BRAVO and graet work..ive become so interested in my place in our tech. and also non tech world with following you and all other tangent issues. This from TWIG and other readings.

    Thanks / Merci

  • Public Parts: The Value, Risk and Art of Sharing

  • mango


    What Happens When Companies, Governments, and People Let It All Hang Out

  • Gary

    Yeah, I’m voting with Leo too. Let it all hang out. You gotta have this quote somewhere though….

    ?”You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

  • Continuing the pseudo religious theme of WWGD, how about “the truth shall set you free?”

  • Public Parts: No pain, no gain.

  • One more vote for “Exposing Ourselves for Fun, Profit, and a Brighter Future”

    I’m more worried about the cover art. How much of a homage to Howard will THAT be?

  • Twain

    PUBLIC PARTS: privacy manifest

    PUBLIC PARTS: on the Wall (play on FB and a Michael Jackson album)

    PUBLIC PARTS: we are not Anon (play on “we are not alone” theory of other beings watching and knowing us)

    PUBLIC PARTS: beyond the share, take care

    PUBLIC PARTS: knowing you, knowing me, knowing TMI

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  • Sander Remie

    “What used to be Private”

  • Ryan

    I agree with a commenter way above (Sean)… Public Parts: What Happens When We Let it All Hang Out. It takes one of the wittier subtitles and introduces some much-needed pith. Subtitles are getting way too long these days… :-)

  • Vincent Fry

    Optimizing Decision Making in a Petabyte World


    When Penicillin Isn’t Enough.

  • Brian Gillespie

    Since we’re doing homages, how about,

    A Stern Look at the Public Privateness

  • All you need to know about …. YOU !
    A new paradigm of privacy in the digital age

  • All you need to know about …. YOU
    A new paradigm of privacy in the digital age

  • Todd McKinney

    Somewhat off the wall, but this may be an angle worth considering:

    “Right behind you I see the millions”

    Maybe just old people would get it, who knows?

  • I saw your post about the new book … My suggest: “All you need to know about …. YOU
    A new paradigm of privacy in the digital age”

  • Toward a Free Trade Agreement of Personal Information

  • Tom

    If I had to choose one of the proposals at the end of your article, I would take the second one. I’m not sure, if that one meets exactly the thesis of your new book. But I think in the conflict between how much privacy, how much publicness or what to hold privat, what to share the most interesting question is: What Happens When… So I like that subtitle.
    In this sense I also thought about the fourth one, but it is in a way tendentious and is using conclusions in advance.

    A variation of my favorite, that sounds a bit similar to the WWGD phrase could be: What Would happen if…

    (Sorry for mistakes, I’m one of those german Sauna people. ;-) )

  • Ray Kelly

    “Let it All Hang Out” is just a bit too Groovy
    I like PUBLIC PARTS:Privacy and Fear, Openness and Opportunity
    after all that is the crux of the matter, isn’t it?
    Perhaps an “or” in place of the comma

  • How about “Macy’s Tells Gimbel’s” a la “Dewey defeats Truman”.

    “Secrets and Lies”

    “Wearing our hearts on our sleeves”

    “Kiss and Tell”

  • HarryP

    How about: “The Naked Truth of a Transparent Life”.

  • Oleg

    Public Parts: Crowdsourcing the Next Revolution

  • I love writing subtitles!

    Public Parts: Privacy and the Public Good in the Age of Facebook

    Public Parts: Fear, Privacy and Binary Exhibitionism

    Public Parts: Exposure, The Secret Self and the Perpetual Update of Lives

  • PH

    How about something like that

    Public Parts: Where are they, and Who should take control of them?

    Depends on tone, ‘control’ can be replaced by ‘responsibility’ and ‘should’ by ‘can’, ‘is +ing’, etc.

  • Hans Suter

    PUBLIC PARTS, giving it away for free.

  • Philippe Miron

    I will also go with Leo but people should be you!

    What Happens When Companies, Governments, and You Let It All Hang Out

  • Keeping in mind that I am one of the folks who thought WWGD was the best title last time, I’d add this thought to subtitle considerations.

    The subtitle is a place you can reflect the very important point made above: this isn’t about public vs private, an argument for 100% public (or private) but rather a considered discussion of emerging issues we all have to deal with.

    Maybe something like:

    How to navigate a new landscape between privacy and disclosure

  • Jeff:

    Maybe there are a few things to take into account. I have learned from a lot of my friends that white people are by far more willing to let their information out across the Net than people of color are. Also, as someone from the transgender community, some of us (not me) worry about old information from life before coming back to bite us as we try to make our way through the world.

    When I attended pii2010, there was a lot of talk about moving to return control of information back to the users. Most of it seemed to take into account problems with information control and job issues.

    Looking at all that, if I was going to choose one of your subtitles, it would have to be Privacy and Fear, Opennes and Opportunity.

    If I were going to make one up myself, I might try something like this:

    Safety In Numbers, Strength In Technology

    Rising Voices, Changing Landscapes

    Life, Friending, and the Pursuit of New Options

    You, the Brand: Shifting Power and (something) Online

    Just some thoughts.

  • EB

    I am 50+, so the “letting it all hang out” has the Boomer connotation for me, which maybe is skewing too old…. Who’s buying the book, oldsters?

    I like: PUBLIC PARTS
    The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society

    But it may be too academic-y.

    But what I like about that choice is it actually tells someone what the heck the book is about.

  • Stuart

    Why your parts aren’t private in the 21st century

  • pd

    Public Parts: searching for the right to know

    Public Parts: being online is more than just the sum of bits

  • I like these variations:

    When Companies, Governments, and Individuals Let It All Hang Out

    If We’re So Worried About Privacy, Why Do We Share a Billion Times a Day?
    (Variation on second part could be “Why Do We Share So Much?”)

    The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society


  • “Public Parts” means nothing to people who aren’t Howard Stern groupies, unlike WWGD which had wide cultural currency.

    I suggest you come up with a better main title.

    • Richard,
      Even before Howard, wasn’t the phrase private parts pretty much part of the language?

      • Richard Bennett

        Sure, Howard used a phrase that had some currency once; it was funny because it was dated. “Public Parts” seems contrived, and doesn’t serve you now that you’re more famous than Stern. What was your second title choice?

  • The Private Self, The Public Sphere, and Principles for a New Society is the best of the proposed for it contains the now and the future. It sounds inspiring yet serious. The hang out stuff Leo Laporte liked is a bit too much penile for me. You are a professor after all ;-)

  • Steve Dzibinski

    The Value of Openness *and* the Choice of Privacy

  • steve

    The whole concept lends itself to imagery of a hemline. A woman exposes some things and keeps other things concealed. Yet it’s dependent on what’s widely accepted; what works in 2011 might not have worked in 2001.

    So the tagline, along with the catchy close-up image of a woman walking in a dress, could work very well. Nothing smutty. Rather : stylish, culture-relevant and personal. (I find the tagline finalists leave me to think the book’s an esoteric work, but it’s really about people.)

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  • David

    A couple more I thought of…

    Public Parts: Opting Out of Opting Out

    Public Parts: Because The Public Whole is Greater Than the Private Some.

    (eh… maybe that one needs work)

  • Laid Off Too

    Public Parts: Dare to Bare All

  • Jason

    :Coronate yourself as the king of social media.

  • Garmon Estes

    Public Parts: The Value of Letting it All Hang Out

  • robert ziner

    How about: Public Parts: Exposing ourselves … to learn more about ourselves.

  • Tom Newman

    Public Parts: Hiding, Sharing and Protecting Our Bits.

    • Simon free

      not sellable in France.
      Bit means Dick in french

  • solak

    I just played the quote of this question off of TWiG for my wife, who always beats me in Scrabble™—she’s good with words—and she has an alternate suggestion:

    Public Parts:
    The Privacy You Give Away

    Though we also like “The Citizens’ New Clothes” and “What happens when we stop hiding our bits”.

  • on a slightly different tact? –

    Private Parts: Why being more open is good for all of us

    Private Parts: Why more openness in the world will be good for all of us

  • I vote for:
    Why We Are Worried About Privacy While We Share A Billion Times a Day?

    WWGD was an awesome book which really insored me! Looking forward to your new book!

  • I’m a big fan of the “let it all hang out” branch of options. If it were up to me, I’d tweak it thusly:

    “Why Companies, Governments, and You Should Let It All Hang Out”


  • How about

    PUBLIC PARTS: Giving it all up or nothing

  • Lee

    What about

    “Public Parts: Privacy, Rules, OK?”

  • Show me yours, I’ll show you mine

  • An Open Society in the Making

  • Ivan Hrskanovic

    “Public Parts: Why Do We Put Our “Private Parts” Out In The Public”
    “Public Parts: Doing It Public Is OK”
    “Public Parts: Always Have Protection” (My mother always tells me that)

    I also like: “What Happens When We Let It All Hang Out”.

  • KevinM

    Here’s a couple more to consider

    Public Parts – Indecent Exposure
    Public Parts – Out in the Open

    • Simon free

      INDECENT EXPOSURE is a great book from Tom Sharpe.
      Out in the Open seems a guidebook on Austrialia.

      Sean Connery would have gone for PUBIC PARTS, WE HAVE YOU BY THE BALLS

    What Happens When People organize themselves

  • A variation of KevinM’s suggestion:

    Public Parts – Decent Exposure

  • Your book sounds to me extremely interesting and coming at the right time for the scientists,practioners,policy makers that are fully involved in the implementation of adequate environments,such as SMART CITIES and URBAN LIVING LABS,to bring together publicness and user driven innovation.My suggestion for the subtitle is:”A VISION FOR A BETTER AND HAPPIER SOCIETY”Society can be replaced by World.I dare to suggest a change for the title:”USER DRIVEN PUBLIC PARTS”.User can be replaced by Citizen.
    Good inspiration,I look forward your book as a first reader and also to use it in our ENoLL Network as well as in the Open Data movement

  • what about: Public Parts – ePrivacy

    regards from Quito – Ecuador

  • My Suggestions….Public Intoxication

    What Should the Public Do?

  • Public Parts: the freedom of being seen

    I think that living in public provide a certain freedom to what we do. It helps us unlearn that divide between us and them, and in so doing between us and everything. There is a keen sense of freedom in trying to not have secrets, not to mention a lot less trouble trying to remember who knows and who does not. I also have found (now that I am in a very small, very rural part of the world) that when you live in the open, it makes it easier to do what is right, even when it is not necessarily convenient.

  • Public Parts just does not get me exited enough to reach out for your new book. What would Google do – was catching my attention – don´t you have another question – what is scarry or attracting around public parts ? Is around how public do you need to be to be ? Or where are you heading ….?

  • I am throwing some more questions in: How public do you need to be to exist ? How public do you need to be to thrive ?

  • Mark


    Public Parts: What Happens When Companies, Governments and the Rest of Us Let It All Hang Out

    Public Parts: What Happens When Companies, Governments — and you and yours — Let It All Hang Out

  • The second one I really enjoy, but I think it should be Public Parts: What Happens, Government and All of Us Let it Hang Out.

  • Public Parts: Yours, Mine or Ours?

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  • Raskolnikov

    How a bout this one?

    “Public Parts in the Gift Economy”

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  • Hi. Have you found a public part for your book now ?? or not ?