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.