- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 17 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 27, 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005PTOXFY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live Audiobook – Unabridged
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As the majority of the Facebook and Google users will acknowledge, privacy is a hot issue right now. Privacy advocate groups are everywhere, so a different opinion is needed to balance the world. And that's where Jeff Jarvis' book comes in.
The book starts out with the example of Germany and the dispute over Google Maps. Well, before that, there is the introduction... but you know what I mean. Throughout the book, he provides some interesting "good" points for being "public" online. However, near the middle, he succumbs to the benefits of being "private" online. In a sense, this book is, essentially, a compendium of the benefits and weaknesses of removing your privacy online. There are rather in-depth interviews and examples to help explain the deeper reasons for our need for privacy, or lack thereof, which is good.
Mr. Jarvis has written an acceptable book that will certainly help readers understand the struggles of privacy online. 4 stars.
Let me define the Privacy Paradox. People love to share personal details with total strangers. But there is outrage when these strangers misuse personal information.
I was hired by information specialists of high schools. The ones that left thought they just witnessed the result of some serious hacking into personal databases. They simple didn't believe that the information was published voluntarily. By their own students.
I took the insignificant personal details of one single person from Twitter and Facebook, combined them with some marginal geodata from Foursquare, mixed them with a few more particularly unnewsworthy facts from other networks (with the help of Spokeo) and made a narrative of them. I told a story. A real story. The sum of all these public parts ? A naked person. He told us where he lived, what he loves, what he hates, why he does things, what his cell phone number is, where he works, his family and friends, everything.
Did this person intend to tweet or post personal details? Yes. Does the person hate that a stranger makes his whole life public? Yes. That's the Privacy Paradox.
The definition of privacy is shifting, says Jarvis. That's ok. We just don't want our data used against us. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, hated that someone published a ton of personal details just by .. Googling him. We want to express ourselves, we want to find information about other people, but want to control our own information. Which we can, but we don't because we want to share.
I think the openness is great. In a transparent world, wonderful things can happen. I love my Flipboard where I can make my own magazine about niche topics that are extremely important to me. I read thoughts that are fresh and at the same time fragile.
I can follow the first thoughts of gatekeepers in `journalism',' internet research for reporters' and even `people who design internet research courses for reporters'. I can read how new ideas are conceived. I can participate.
Even specialists will sooner or later talk about what they ate, their holidays or the weather or how great their newest book is. But thanks to intelligent filters and the curated web, I won't know. I can ignore the personal details. But if I want to, I can make the person behind the specialism come alive with all the mediocre details of daily life.
University of Amsterdam, introductory tour. After the first student introduced herself, I said: "Hold on. Let me do this". I show the students their own public details from Facebook and Twitter. Your mother's birthday is tomorrow. You want bigger breasts. You only slept one hour last night. You killed your cat.
Again, some are shocked. But all of the details are from authentic posts. The solution to the paradox is not to protect people from themselves with more privacy laws. It's about the misuse of personal data, not the personal data itself.
Do we need more privacy filters? Do we need more laws? Must Facebook be stopped? How evil is Google? In the few seconds that it took you to read these questions, over 100,000 people typed "Can gonorrhea be cured?" into Google and they were happy to find a companion who is transparent and honest.
Another 10,000 people just searched for "I lied to my boyfriend about my age" and found real people with the same problem.
The risk of transparency is not the loss of our privacy. The risk is that we lose ourselves in a virtual world of personal tidbits and we are shocked when it leaves that world.
Jeff Jarvis wrote a book that will be required reading for my students. With great skill he proves, yes proves, that the current privacy debate is too simple.
That we shouldn't concentrate on what is there, but on how we use it.
I would prefer the title of Professor Jarvis' first book, "What would Google do?" (a play on "What would Jesus do?") as this latest book's title, because it hints that the questions of ethics and purpose are central to choices about privacy or publicness.
Jarvis calls for less fearful reactiveness to the unknown future. He could have said something about fear being a question of character. He emphasizes our responsibility to go public. We owe something to each other.
I think inclusion of literary figures or actors would have moved us into a much deeper discussion. What would Hester Prymme of "The Scarlet Letter" do? Why did she stay in that town despite all the shame of the huge A on her dress? She chooses to stay outside the town but still part of the town. What does that tell us about public responsibility? What would Bartleby the Scrivener do? He was "safe" in his private narrow world but oh what a boring and unfulfilled life.
Jarvis' does not ask the deeper questions that are central to privacy and publicness--philosophical questions. For example, if he were to ask, What is it to be a human being? Then he might begin to ask, Is it truly possible to take privacy away from a human being? Think of Orwell's Winston Smith... think of cameras watching you all day long (need that reveal anything about your inner reality?), think of someone in prison sharing space with others and being watched/or recorded, think even of a chat or tweet fanatic trying to share every possible thought all day long. Those individuals still have privacy--inexorably and inevitably--one really cannot escape one's separate deeper self by attempting to continually broadcast it. It is ineffable. The discussion we are having about privacy in the internet age is trivial relative to the profound phenomenon of being human.
If you know what cannot be taken from you: your integrity, your values, your self-respect -- whatever you want to
call the ineffable in you. And you make a distinction between that and what can be taken: your reputation, (if you have one, Jarvis may well add). At least you won't put the cart before the horse. What is or is not seen by others is secondary, what you truly are is primary.
Jarvis does come through as someone who realizes this in his own life, but in my view he does not make it explicit, hence readers may easily come away with superficial stances. Whether you are moving away from or moving toward greater publicness is meaningless unless you are continually asking deeper questions of human identity and choice based on judgment.
It cannot be argued that this was not his topic of concern. One of his main points is that all the other developments and technologies through history have been met with the same fear, yet the fundamentals of human life always remained essentially the same. Well...what are these fundamentals? We are all left with our own unquestioned assumptions.
I thought the book was verbose here and there so I tried to skim rapidly through, but then decided to slow down instead. As I read, I looked up references online and had fun finding things I never imagined. This alone made the book worth reading.
Nonetheless I ask: Shouldn't people who are so plugged in to the internet with all its attractions write "books" differently -- with even more commitment to absolute conciseness? We all have limited time. Cut out every chapter and every sentence that is not necessary, please.
In summary, "Public Parts" is well-written, edited, and researched (building on definitive scholarship from a by-gone age) but feels verbose to me.
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