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.”

  • Glad to see this. A long time TWIG podcast listener, I have learned a lot from you, Gina and Leo, and I’m pleased to see the expected positive reviews. I’ll post my own (review) when I’ve received my copy.

  • cm

    So…. how far do you want to go with being public?

    Is it just about being “out there” and talked about to sell books or do you really think it is of benefit to make everything public?

    • Brian

      Couldn’t agree more. Mr. Jarvis, a reference to Fortune is a simple (pathetic at this point) sales tactic. By the way, isn’t putting a price on the book effectively an oxymoron? And what ever happened to “free as a business model,” which you championed (or should I say, piggy-backed) in WWGD?

      I raised the same point that CM is making, in one of your earlier blogs, which, for whatever reason, you continue to ignore.

      Obviously, you aren’t the only one who has a vested interest in the success of your book (i.e. publishers), so I wouldn’t expect that you would come out and say, “my bad – I messed up.”

      The reality is, by not clarifying your take on where the line should be drawn with respect to privacy, you’re giving the impression that your book is running in only one direction on a two-way street, risking both your, and your publisher’s, reputation. If I remember correctly, Dell made this (huge) mistake from a customer service perspective a while back, right?
      Hopefully you’re given the same chance Dell was given to correct the issue. And if you aren’t, it will come clear when we see a book written by someone else who treats the public’s privacy just a little bit more delicately, especially in the face of the Murdoch incident (could just be bad timing).

      After learning that people were so open to providing personal info on facebook, it was reported that Zuckerberg himself called his own customers “dumb.” Is your book basically saying that he got it wrong?

      My bottom line advice to you: instead of ignoring all of these negative comments, turn this blog into a privacy debate. It’s a win/win for you – both for your book, and your blog.

    • ken n

      That’s not what he is saying – read the book.

  • Nathalie Dufour

    Yes. I am agree with CM. I do not trust your intentions.

    First, you write about google because you are loyally devoted to google since you are a blogger and try to get so-called “google-juice”.

    Then, you write about so called “public-ness” because you like how selling books (the google book) it benefit you and build even more popular and successful.

    We have higher standards for the academic community in France. We would never have a professor only trying to benefit himself so openly with frivolous topics.

    • Andy Freeman

      > We have higher standards for the academic community in France. We would never have a professor only trying to benefit himself so openly with frivolous topics.

      Those “higher standards” are why France dominates every list of top universities…..

      • Nathalie Dufour

        Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

      • Andy Freeman

        Actually, these “lower standards” do seem to matter.

        John Hennessy, president of Stanford, gets a lot of visitors who want his advice on how to create and sustain a world-class University. They all come with the same plan, namely, figure out what’s going to be important and do that. They ask him to tell them what’s going to be important or to confirm what they’ve decided.

        He tells them that their plan will only work if they can do something that he doesn’t know how to do, namely figure out what’s important before it’s important. That’s why Stanford doesn’t follow that plan. (Yes, Stanford makes bets, but it jumps around a lot and tries many things.)

        Of course, if you don’t want to credit low standards, maybe you can telll us why US universities are so good. Is it our sophistication? Our raw intelligence?

        Why does the brain drain head (mostly) towards the US? (Folks have been claiming that it will reverse “soon” for decades.)

  • Seth Cohen

    Um, isn’t it a bit of an exaggeration to call this a Fortune review? This is from their staff recommendations called “The Weekly Read.”

    Our Weekly Read column features Fortune staffers’ and contributors’ takes on recently published books about the business world and beyond. We’ve invited the entire Fortune family — from our writers and editors to our photo editors and designers — to weigh in on books of their choosing based on their individual tastes or curiosities. Each Friday we feature a different review.

    Makes one wonder if Jessi Hempel has anything to disclose about her association with you.

    • Your commenters here make me run out and buy the book, which should be arriving any day now from the pre-order, just to make sure I am adequately equipped to defend you. I lead the same kind of life you do. By my age, if anything bad were to have happened to a public person, it would probably have already happened to me. I know Erin and Kathy have had problems, however, and the tone of your commenters makes me wonder if there’s a way to be public without having to interact with thoughtless people.

      • Seth Cohen

        Andy Freeman,

        Care to translate? Something about old folks I think…

    • Jeff Licquia

      I dunno. It’s a review. The domain it’s hosted on ends in “”. What more do you need?

  • CM and Brian, I have answered that question often. In my book, I confessed to my hypocrisy in not releasing it to be purely digital, clickable, linkable, correctable, and so on. I didn’t eat my own dog food. Why? Dog’s gotta eat. I have a kid in college. Publishing still pays. Publishing still adds value — editing, promotion, distribution — and extracts its value in ownership of IP. That’s the way it is or was. I say in my next book that I want to do the next project differently. I still need to extract value where I can; second kid heading to college too soon. But publishing is changing in such a way that the value must be found differently. More on that later. I know you think you have quite the clever gotcha here. Hate to tell you this, but you’re hardly the first and I delivered my own gotcha in my book book, which I’ll gladly sell you.

  • Brian,
    To your second point. I don’t sit cocked and ready to respond to every snark here. I have a life — yes a private life. I was quite busy this week with my family and with my work. Sorry about that. Priorities, you know.
    Yes, I hope to have a debate here and at events. I’m headed to one next week. I will happily debate privacy commissioners on my points.
    If you are saying that writing and publishing a book is a bad act, well, I suspect there are others who will disagree with you.
    I have discussed most of the ideas in my book here, publicly, on my blog and in Twitter and now on Google+ and will continue to do so.

    • Brian

      Thanks Jeff. I appreciate the clarification.

  • Seth,
    I think it’s more that you should disclose the source of your antipathy to me.
    Jessi Hempel expressed opinions about my book. I call that a review. But I’m generous with my definition. I started a magazine of reviews called Entertainment Weekly and I often say that if I started it today it would have no critics; the audience is the critic. So I respect her opinion and I’m honored to have it. And, yes, I’ll brag about it here because it’s my book and my blog. Take that!
    As for the aspersions you cast — how could Ms. Hempel write anything nice about me if we were not entangled in some way — you libel her even more than me. Never met Ms. Hempel to my knowledge; don’t know who she is, except a fine critic of books….

  • Francine,
    This is why I am coming to prefer Google+ to blogs — better discussion.
    Oh, no, there I go again, saying something nice about Google! Bad me.

    • Hey Jeff. I totally agree with you in most of your points in the effort you took in replying to these persons, BUT… these people represent a broader audience than G+. They may have come here through links (harder, not imposible, to happen with a G+ discussion), through search after reading about you on fortune, or they might just be haters who read you just for that “let’s see what that tool wrote today”…
      On the other hand, G+ is a more selected audience. People there “follow” you more closely, having added you to a circle they must be closer to you. That doesn’t stop them from disagreeing with you, but that’s more unlikely.
      I wouldn’t rate the “quality” of the discussion when the audience is so diverse. I don’t think you like to preach to the choir (you almost never do when you do live appearances) so, if anything, I’d value more a discussion when you get the chance to have trolls or unpolite people accuse you. But it’s just me :)
      And yes, I’m xposting this on G+ :)

      Your fanboy Mike.

  • Nathalie,
    Why don’t you read the book and tell me whether the topic is trivial. I don’t think so. I think publicness is about nothing less than the next Gutenberg age in society.
    My book will be published in French in December. Oh, no, there goes the nation….

  • CM,
    Now to the substance of your question: I do not believe in what some call radical transparency. I do not believe that everything should be public and nothing private. I argue instead that there is benefit to publicness and we risk losing sight of that in the panic over privacy. I do, as I just said in other comments, have a private life. But I have also found the benefit in living publicly. Here on this blog I have discussed my penis and what it will no longer do after my prostate cancer surgery. Can’t get much more public than that. But there are benefits that came to me and others. Indeed, it was in that discussion that Francine, also in this thread, discussed her husband’s cancer in a way that I know has inspired men to get tested and perhaps will save some lives … because she was willing to be public, generous enough to be public. That is my point. I live that publicness here. I chose to examine the topic in greater depth and chose to do so in a book because I would get the benefits of publishing I listed in another response: editing, promotion, distribution. Do I want to sell the book? Do I want people to read it. Of course. Publishing a book is (still) a way to make ideas more public and to get them discussed.

  • CM,
    Let me add one more thing on what I think is your chicken-egg question. My publicness came long before the idea to write a book; the first inspired the second. My publicness on this blog started 10 years ago after I survived 9/11, sharing my experience and my thoughts. It was this blog and conversations such as this — more via links than via comments, frankly — that taught me to reexamine my presumptions about the structure of media, journalism, and society. So in that sense, my book is a byproduct of 9/11 and my personal publicness that resulted. Does that answer your question?

  • can’t we all get along?

    So you’ve got your fans and your detractors. Seems like that would come with the territory of being public. Let it go.

    I appreciate your point about not overreacting to fears about privacy in the digital world.

    However, it remains to be seen if you can convince others that “sharing in the digital age improves the way we work and live” as much as it has benefited the way the author of the book works and lives. I think most people would naturally be a little skeptical about that off the bat.

    • I don’t need to convince people to share; they’re doing it already — a billion times a day sharing photos, videos, and such on Facebook alone. Oh, we’re sharing.