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Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live

4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
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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
  • ASIN: B00740FU4U
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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
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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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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Jeff Jarvis paints a world where Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. all work together to make the world a better place because living are life more or less transparently on the internet is truly better for all of us. He has some great things to say, and he is not just speculating. He has really lived what he is preaching.
However, it flies in the face of most conventional wisdom, and I am not sure it really will work in a less than perfect world.
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To hell with the handful of naysayers in academe who criticize brilliant minds like Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky for being "Internet Intellectuals"; they think deeply and are able to relate their important insights in a fashion that the average person can grasp.

Public Parts is a must-read for anyone. Period.

Not just business pros, though they'll doubtless benefit from the discussion of how the era of Radical Transparency can benefit business. Not just netizens, though they'll find the discussion of civil rights in the digital space invaluable in protecting themselves and advancing their own ideas. Not just PR pros, though they'll be comforted by the litany of case studies that will help them justify "doing the right thing" to the C-Suite.
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