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Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live Hardcover – September 27, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1451636000 ISBN-10: 1451636008
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A refreshing take on a topic often covered by people who feel that the Internet…threatens to imperil our children and undermine our society.”—Jessi Hempel, Forbes.com

"This is a superior work. Not only is it well researched and elegantly argued but he makes some original observations about how digital technology is changing the nature of human self-expression."—John Gapper, The Financial Times

"Jarvis offers a persuasive and personal look at why sharing things publicly on the Web should become the norm... Jarvis works methodically in Public Parts to unravel long-held beliefs about why openness online is dangerous... Jarvis' message of openness will be provocative to many, but what he explores is only the beginning of a revolution that will continue to change how we use the Web—and how the Web uses us."—Mark W. Smith, Detroit Free Press

"The author of What Would Google Do? returns with another thoughtful look at the Internet age. A welcome and well-reasoned counterpoint to the arguments that social-networking sites and the easy availability of personal information online are undermining our society and putting our safety at risk... A must-read for anyone interested in the issue of connectivity versus privacy."—David Pitt, Booklist

"It's important and will become more so, and I'm very glad Jeff has written his valuable book."—Stephen Baker, author of The Numerati

"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... No one knows what's going to happen next. But people like Jarvis are having fun making sense of these confusing early years."—Niall Firth, New Scientist


"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."—Adam Thierer, Forbes.com

About the Author

Jeff Jarvis blogs about media, news, technology, and business at Buzzmachine.com. He is associate professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, and lives in the New York area.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451636008
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451636000
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,046,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jeff Jarvis is the proprietor of one of the Web's most popular and respected blogs about the internet and media, Buzzmachine.com. He also writes the new media column for the Guardian in London. He was named one of 100 worldwide media leaders by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2007 and 2008, and he was the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly. He is on the faculty of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Murphy on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If the style Jeff Jarvis uses to write Public Parts (a bit of a play on Howard Stern's book "Private Parts") is any indication, I'd imagine that Jeff was the kind of kid in school that was perpetually being told to get back to his seat and sit down, and to quiet down a bit. But you know...it works. Jarvis has much to say about the fantastic challenges to commonly held ideas of privacy that the massive hyperdrive toward connectivity in the 21st century poses. His approach to getting it all out in this fairly short book is a bit frenetic, and his never-a-dull-moment journalism can be energizing, or off-putting, depending on your own preferences. Jarvis's approach is far more the shotgun than the high-powered rifle, which allows him to encompass a wide pattern of topics.

While Jarvis acknowledges that privacy has its uses, he is a gigantic advocate of openness, of public access to information, rather than containment. He backs his advocacy with examples that range from the very personal level (where we hear about his urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction after his prostate cancer surgery) to the international level, where he argues that "governments should be public by default, private only by necessity". Good governments, he says, are transparent. Bad governments are invariably, and often lethally, private. While conscious of the collateral damage that can occur with making some forms of information public, I think he would agree with the thought that when all is said and done, when all the dust is settled, when all the fires of public outrage die down, being public with information is a large net gain to society compared to a culture of privacy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam Thierer on September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Jeff Jarvis has written a provocative book that will force us to have a serious conversation about the trade-offs between enhanced privacy rights and "publicness" -- which he defines as the benefits that come "from being open and making the connections that technology now affords."

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. As Jarvis correctly notes, 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.

Of course, new innovations in information technology -- the printing press, cameras, microphones, and now search engines and social networking -- have always spawned new privacy tensions. Ultimately, though, they also bring tremendous benefits, Jarvis correctly notes. 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.

Whatever your view on privacy and the law governing it, it's always good to hear the other side of the story. Jarvis delivers it here with gusto and makes a powerful case for re-framing the way we think about these challenging issues going forward. Incidentally, those who find this topic of interest should also check out "The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us To Choose Between Privacy And Freedom?" by David Brin, which also makes the case for increased information sharing and publicness.

[My longer review of "Public Parts" can be found at Forbes.com]
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Campos on December 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author wrote a lot about his opinion that our current excessive lack of privacy is a "good" thing, but he hasn't exposed a very scientific backing to his opinions which made the book lack a good knowledge base. Also the majority of the scientists studying in this area are going to say that our current state on privacy is a very bad thing.
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Format: Hardcover
Jarvis provides a succinct and well-organized argument on why sharing more can improve everyone's life - though the metrics for what constitutes improvement is of course, debatable. The arguments are fairly compelling; however, compared to Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age and Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens When People Come Together, Jarvis fails to inspire the reader with a sound theoretical argument or detailed examples. His focus on personal experiences derived from his blog (a must-read) and somewhat petty criticisms of his critics mar the value of this book.

Nevertheless, one can find nuggets of information that clearly show the potential impact of business models that rely on sharing (e.g. - TinyURL resulting in more clickthroughs than direct search on Google - showing the latent potential of Facebook-like platforms on monetizing connections/sharing and the increase in effectiveness of marketing, more relevant targeting). Readers familiar with the domain may not significantly benefit from the discussion on other applications such as Foursquare and many others that are focused on sharing purchase information. Overall, Jarvis makes the argument that sharing information will eventually lead to better targeted more relevant ads, that in turn increase the click-throughs - a win for the advertiser and the platform - and presumably for the target.
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