I first heard of Jeff Jarvis, an outspoken media sage, while conducting research for a Digital Newsroom Management course at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010. From what I read, he had a sass mouth and challenged conventional wisdom toward new media strategies.
When his new book, “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live,” came out, Twitter was abuzz with all the good things about it — so I Tweeted him. Of all the people with many thousands of followers I’ve tweeted, Jarvis has responded the most. For that matter, close friends—former roommates—respond to fewer tweets. He walks the talk he evangelizes in his book. In fact, the day I received the book as a Christmas gift, I mentioned him in a photo of it:
He retweeted it and even offered this advice:
Though Jarvis tackles weighty topics as using the internet and open platforms to disrupt economies, governments, laws, social norms, privacy, etc., the simple and offhand correspondence in those tweets represents the premise of his book: the world is better when we share. My 300+ followers on Twitter instantly received an endorsement for the book, and the author himself, to my enjoyment, was able to respond.
I’ll spare the redundancies of a full review, but the book does force us to take a hard look at why we value privacy. Why on earth would we want to hoard information and knowledge when sharing has never been easier? (do I sense some John Donne in these ideas?) Fitness information that friends have shared on Facebook has encouraged me to begin exercising regularly, potentially setting me up for a long, healthy life. Along those lines, I benefit when friends share healthy eating tips. My my parents share grief experienced from bureaucratic tape by school districts in regard to the education for my kid brothers, it sets them up with a supportive network of people ready to lend a listening ear [eye] or offer advice. I’ve gained invaluable business insight (I was a journalism major, so business was a foreign concept to me) from those who share their knowledge, freely, on Twitter.
While I found myself nodding in agreement to just about every idea Jarvis put forth in the book, the heading titled “Publicness Protects Us” gave me pause, as the automatic response to any breech of freedom (by that I mean, government intrusion via surveillance; think: Big Brother) is the oft-cited Franklin quote: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
I’ll revisit that bit (literally, it’s just two and a half pages) in more detail later. In the mean time, think about how your friends/family/community/world can benefit from what you share. Are you merely being smarmy? Adding to the noise? Or are you promoting some sort of greater good by contributing to the conversation?