Help me with my South by Southwest proposal. I’m not sure what to submit as I’m working on a few things these days. What do you think of these possibilities:

* How to live the very public life.
* A portrait of Gutenberg as the first technology entrepreneur.
* Honey, we shrunk the economy: how technology leads not to growth but to efficiency and an exploration of the many profound implicaitons.
* News isn’t what you think it is. So what is it?
* Entrepreneurial journalism is not an oxymoron.

I need to decide and get one written on the plane back home. Or not…

UPDATE: This is what I’m planning to submit to SXSW today. Thanks, all, for your help. I will do things on the other topics. I sensed more interest in this and think it’s probably the most appropriate at this stage for SXSW (not to mention that my book will be out).

How to share smartly

Don’t let publicness be thrust upon you. Grab it. Embrace it. Enjoy it. In this session, we will examine the benefits – and limits – of sharing. After a brief excursion through history – when publicness was privilege and privacy was privation – we will catalog the benefits of publicness and discuss the idea that sharing is social and secrecy can be antisocial. Yes, privacy is necessary and needs protection. And not everything about you is worth sharing – because, let’s be honest, most of life is banal and boring. But there are many good reasons to share: out of generosity, to exercise power, to make connections, to act as an example to closed companies and governments. We will share the secrets to sharing smartly. We will imagine a more open world. Everyone should come prepared to share.

  • Adam

    I’ll be at SXSW Interactive next year, and I’d really enjoy seeing you speak on privacy vs. openness. There is a major disconnect between the forces of industry, newsmedia, government and consumers that needs attention and reasoned explanation.

    • I totally agree with you, and I wish you could release an audio podcast for those who won’t be able to be there.

  • JerryK


    I gave up on TV news about 20 years ago and newspapers about 15 years ago, relying almost solely on NPR for my news. I now use Twitter and FlipBoard almost exclusively to keep touch with current events. Of the possible topics listed, I’m mostly interested in your views on “News isn’t what you think it is”.

    I’ll attend regardless. I got a lot of good exercise walking to your last SxSW talk on the outskirts of Austin!

  • Gutenberg and Shrinking Economy seem the most interesting to me, although I really don’t like the “Honey, we shrunk” part of the title.

  • “News isn’t what you think it is. So what is it?”

    There is a difference between what news IS, and what news SHOULD BE. Don’t know if you’ve read this, but Kai Nataga publicly quit as CTV’s Quebec City bureau chief because his ideological objection to what TV news is. Awesome piece about everything that’s wrong with news.

    And I don’t think this is limited to TV news. Newspapers and radio are a little better, but not much. The fact is that most news is essentially an advertising company that runs on the exploitation of well-meaning, ambitious journalists in an effort to sell more ads.

    “Outside a relative handful of financial publications, there is no such thing as the news business. There is only the advertising business.”

    – Clay Shirky, “Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic” (via 43folders/Merlin Mann)

    This is the beauty of the web and something that Kai recognized. The unprecedented democratization of communication brought on by the web means that we don’t have to let corporations dictate how news will be presented anymore. We can create it ourselves in whatever format we like, and distribute it to the world. We can finally let those truth-seeking, naive journalist graduates do what they really want to do, instead of forcing them into a corporate position that slowly erodes their idealism.

    News SHOULD be the truth as the writer finds it. It shouldn’t be constrained by timeslots, page sizes, or conflicts of interest with advertisers.

  • The first topic sounds like it could be of interest to the SXSW audience, but it’s hard to judge without knowing your specific angle or the aspects you plan to address.

    I think the fourth topic could also be a good fit.

    The titles of the third and fifth topics are definitely catchy, which is important when selection is based in large part on popularity and potential attendees’ degree of interest, but I’m not so sure about those topics overall. I’m thinking you’re probably not so concerned about getting accepted, though. ;)

    Personally, I’m most interested in the third topic, but I don’t really think my interests are representative of the ones of the greater SXSW audience.

    Hope this is somewhat helpful, Jeff.


  • I love two of those ideas; how to live the very public life and news isn’t what you think it is.

    The former has appeal because it’s highly relevant as the exponential growth of information about us is available online and easily indexed/searchable. It would be great to have a talk on this topic to refer to as we help people and organizations that are averse to being public become more comfortable with the idea (dispelling the pervasive fear of the ridiculous, like that checking in on Foursquare will cause one’s house to be broken into).

    We’re so indoctrinated in the ways of privacy that it will take a considerable amount of effort to get us to shift our thought processes.

    It also represents what will become the new reality (the sooner we get used to it, the better we’ll be able to influence how that reality impacts us).

    For the latter, discussing what “news” actually is would be fascinating given that society at large and in particular the sphere of journalism are grappling with the topic at the moment. We need to accept a broader view of “news,” processes, and “sources,” whether or not anyone *wants* it to be the case.

    Just recently, there was a tragic mass killing here in Grand Rapids, MI and it marked something of a turning point for “news” in that virtually everyone following the story just tuned right in to the police scanner with readily-accessible apps/software and listened to that as opposed to waiting for the information to pass through the filter of journalists. The delay between livetweets of the scanner and the TV anchors was something on the order of 20 minutes (which is a lifetime online).

    Some of those who tuned in included people around the world, alerted by analytics tools on Twitter and within the scanner app itself, that showed that the topic was trending.

    There’s also an interesting discussion to be had about the decline in relevance of what the national/international traditional media determine to be “news” versus the growth in importance of hyperlocal “news” (which is determined and in some cases documented by the users).

  • Living in public! You’ve got your forthcoming book, and with Google+ I think it is particularly topical at this moment. People are figuring out the extent to which they want to be in public, what it really even means to be in public (if I share it in a closed circle, or if I send a private email that can nevertheless be forwarded to anyone, is it really private or is it a kind of public?)

    My vote is a publicness talk.

  • Gregory Schultz

    I would do the last topic as many people would like to turn their blog/website, etc. into a business but either keep running into a brick wall or can’t find people to answer questions. I’ve ran into this problem and still don’t know where to go.

  • Dan Bothwell

    I don’t know anything about South By Southwest but I really like the topic of technology and the shrinking economy. Profound implications indeed.

  • steve

    1. You write “Entrepreneurial journalism is not an oxymoron”
    2. I read “Entrepreneurial journalism is not an oxymoron”
    3. ????
    4. Profit !!

  • I’m with those who pick “news isn’t what you think….” But I hope you can see the twist that the market for news is driven by our mirror neurons. What no longer exists is a civic-responsibility-driven market, because we are now a mature country (we’ve finished building it, that is).

    We assume that our communities are composed mainly of civically- and intellectually-responsible individuals. We assume that’s the market for news. Nope, we want to be entertained and live dangerous, exciting lives vicariously. We want to think of ourselves as better than others. So our “news” turns out to be slideshows of pool parties, scandal, and gore.

  • pd

    “The rise and fall of ‘Blagging’ in an open world” would be good a topic.

    • BLAGGING as you call it, is not dead, it may have been tuncated to 140 charcters, via Twitter but it’s not dead. For that matter BLOG THIS via Goggle Blogger is a great way to aggregate the news and add your own Blather or Blagger as you call it.

      Either way, what people think, we the people, the public, the people formerly known as the audience incliuding Jeff Jarvis, will continue to Blog On and share because we can.

      God Save The Internet.

      • pd

        Blagging means:

        “Knowingly or recklessly obtaining or disclosing personal data or information without the consent of the data controller,” is how it is defined under UK’s Data Protection Act 1998.

        Blagging addresses, phone bills, bank statements and health records has been illegal since 1994.

        That’s why i thought blagging in an open world would be an interesting topic

  • I’m on the “news isn’t what you think” bandwagon. Now if I could just get those in the “news” industry to attend and listen…rather than just “covering” SXSW and moving on.

  • It has to be the shrinking economy. It will affect everyone across the board and it shows the tightest intersection between ordinary people’s lives and their Infotech use and habits. It will also affect those who don’t even touch it.

    We are already heavily engaged with a massive deflation, understanding that IT will accelerate that is pretty important.

  • How to live a public life!!! Brilliant and currently topical.
    – Transparency as a response to hacking
    – You could also tie it in with musicians re the musician as brand and impact on their personal lives, as well as impact on advertisers (aka Pepsi / Michael Jackson) and what to do when it goes awry
    – More regulation is not the response to hacking


  • … and how to maintain your personality and humanity in public

  • … and how to manage the increasingly tricky roles of PR

    = relevant both to entertainers and media

  • I’d go with the shrinking economy. It allows you to go into “news isn’t what you think it is” and you can also touch on privacy (for those who can afford it) – but it also allows you the room to think between now and SXSW (a digital life-time from now) about whatever is going on right then and there.

  • “The newspaper business in a post-Murdoch world”

  • Do you want many readers or do you want a selectd number (few but good) or do you want to be useful?
    I would chose the subject I feel good writing, not caring who will be interested in reading it, but then, it is like an entrepreneur, he produces what he can sell best, not what he likes or he would prefer to produce.
    In a world where everything is done for profit it is really hard to do something for mere pleasure…

  • Your work on privacy has so far made for very interesting reading/listening via your various outlets and any extended conversation on that would I am sure be ace.

    Nevertheless, I think that recent developments have made it very apparent that the public’s idea of what news is (in particular how it operates) is a gulf away from what it is and would make for a timely and fascinating discussion.

    personally I have always enjoyed and been eager to hear more about what the base unit of news is, or news beyond the article, in a digital world. People are beginning to make inroads to new reporting methods and an exploration of where this could go is very exciting. Anything on that subject would make a grand talk.

  • A portrait of Gutenberg as the first technology entrepreneur – I think the connection with the past is what makes this so fascinating. W/O a doubt, this one gets my vote…

    • thanks. i wrote a magazine piece on this that will appear first in German.

  • Andy Freeman

    Whether or not Gutenberg was the first technology entrepreneur, he wasn’t the first.

    One can do a “great man” story without minimizing others.

    • Who else would you nominate?

    • Andy Freeman

      I’d love to hear your take on Gutenberg.

      Then again, I don’t care about “first”, I care about effect.

  • My favorite are:
    „how to live public life“
    If you choose it, it will be very interesting to hear about:
    When does somebody living public life?
    At which moment you will be marked as „public living person“?
    If you are a famous star, a famous actor or if you have a public office[politicians, mayors]?
    Or will you live already public life if you go ahead and go online with a blog or a website or already if you are part of a great social community like facebook or google+?

    Another aspect could be: the time. If you answer the last question with „yes“, then there will be the need to have an answer to the following aspect: Will you stay longlife a public living digital person? When does the public life is coming to an end in digital worlds?

    Another question in this context could be: How to safeguard the private atmosphere [family, personal dates] Should there be something like a eraser? An automatic eraser to wipe out the digital lanes in www and social networks, if you don`t want to live longer a public life.

    And last but not least: What about the identity as public living digital doll?
    And how to handle attacs of the anonymous mass, e.g. trolls.

    Also interesting your news topic and the todays`aspect:
    What is the true „news value“, because I have the impression, that the importance of negativism as a news value is increased over the past two decades.
    Sometimes I have the impression too, the louder a news trader is calling the „newer“ and much „important“ his message or his news are. Although they aren`t „new“. So what is „new“ in a digital world where everybody tries bearing the latest news?

    Sorry for language mistakes because I am neither an American nor an English native, but I like attending your buzzmachine [since Re:Publica in Berlin].

    I am looking forward to the winner topic(s) ;-)

  • A portrait of Gutenberg as the first technology entrepreneur.

    This is the clear winner. Skip all the rest. What a topic you have here. You have a number of interesting ways this can be explored.

  • “How to live the very public life”

    This is a very important thing. Society needs to change for the upcoming “real” age of information. We are not completely there and problems will get more serious if society keeps on going like that, imho.
    There is a good, often used, example. You do something, maybe in your youth, and put it on the net. Like hanging totally drunken in your own sauce. Really disgusting. Now you’re grown up and apply for a job and the boss researching in the net and finding the photos. You won’t get that job.
    So who did something wrong? You, the boss, or no one? You not… almost everyone did made something, sometimes, that won’t keep you from getting a serious job. So it’s normal. The Boss? Maybe. Is that legal to deny you a job because of something you did a long time ago?

    Society needs to accept some things that are normal, but never put out in public before. People are communicating. Now they can do it in public very easily, and they will. It’s the nature of the human being. What kind of freedom is it, when you can do things, but must shut up about it? It’s none!

    That’s why I think, it would be great if the problems and benefits of “living in public” could be explored further.

  • I’m hoping this works out for you. But yes something that you did a long time ago can bit you in the bum!