Many people who review Jeff Jarvis’ extraordinary new book, “Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live”,spend way too much time focused on Jarvis’ penis. Sure, the man blogs regularly, and quite publicly, about the effects wrought by his prostate cancer. But Jarvis has—sorry, Jeff, no offense intended—bigger things on his mind.
“Public Parts” looks at the meaning of privacy and “publicness,” secrecy and openness, opacity and transparency for individuals, businesses and governments in the age of Facebook and Foursquare, Twitter and Tumblr, search and social. Jarvis looks at each in detail with humor and grace—perhaps not unexpected for someone willing to live his life so publicly.
This isn’t a “business” book, at least not in the sense of the books I usually review. Unlike his earlier book, “What Would Google Do?”, (you can read my review here), there are fewer immediate takeaways. Jarvis has bigger things on his mind than just business (though I would note his section on “new media vs. old business models” should be required reading for anyone relying on the Internet as a marketing and distribution channel).
Jarvis asks important questions about the nature of our increasingly public lives. But more than that, he offers answers and insights. He pokes and he prods. Some positions he advocates will likely make you uncomfortable, perhaps in a way that only a man treated for prostate cancer could.
Because I guarantee ignoring these things will cause you a lot more discomfort in the long run. As I said, he’s got some big things on his mind.
Read the book. It’ll do you good. Just don’t be surprised when you end up with some pretty big things on your mind, too.
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