PUBLIC PARTS: HOW SHARING IN THE DIGITAL AGE IMPROVES THE WAY WE WORK AND LIVE by Jeff Jarvis (Simon & Schuster), 272 pages, $29.99 cloth. Rating: NNNN
Even if you're not a fan of books about the web, you'll see the value of media guru Jeff Jarvis's Public Parts In very clear and accessible language, he argues that our obsession with privacy squanders opportunities to make connections in the connected world.
According to Jarvis, the more transparent we make ourselves, the better people we can become. The tools of the internet, primarily social media and their "oversharing" instruments, are giving rise to new ways to organize - not just linking us with people sharing our interests, but also broadcasting revolutions. The Arab Spring, Jarvis says, would not have been possible without access to those unfiltered and very public tweets about the uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
In the corporate world, info is the new currency. Facebook, for one, wants to learn as much about you as possible to better serve you more customized ads. Jarvis sees no problem with that kind of complicit surveillance. He surrenders his stats willingly, and likes the idea of ads tailored to his interests.
Jarvis is enthusiastic about what he sees as the new future: companies continually asking customers for direct input on new products; governments working with data geeks to create new interactive projects for citizens. Alongside all that, we'd compile shared principles for online culture and society. Jarvis wants to continue the discussion on his blog Buzzmachine, to which readers are already flocking.
Public Parts arrives on the heels of several recent books on an open and look-at-me internet like The Peep Diaries, by Toronto's Hal Niedzviecki. But Jarvis brings his depth of experience in media and digital start-ups, and with it a degree of confidence that very few tech writers have earned.
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