October 6th, we host Jeff Jarvis, who has made himself an advocate for publicness. In his new book, Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way we Work and Live, he argues that if we become too obsessed with guarding all personal information on the ‘Net, we’ll miss important opportunities that come with making information available. Fortune writer Jessi Hempel reviews Jarvis’ book for CNN Money….
“…….It’s a refreshing take on a topic often covered by people who feel that the Internet — and in particular, social networks like Facebook and the vast amount of personal data that flow within them — threatens to imperil our children and undermine our society. Discussions about Internet privacy often include Orwellian allusions to fear: We’re concerned about government surveillance. We don’t want targeted cookies to help advertisers track our Internet wanderings. We don’t want robbers to know when we’re not home. Sure, we want the benefits that come with the information age, but all this data about our lives that is accruing digitally? Creepy.
By contrast, Jarvis approaches these questions with delight. But before he can take down the privacy advocates, he has to offer a definition for the term…. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has tried to recast the desire for privacy as a desire for control over our digital identities. He argues that people want to share information, but we want to determine who gets to see and use it. Jarvis says this definition is too tidy. Privacy is much messier. We live in relationship with other people, after all. How do we even define what qualifies as our own information? If I share information that implicates you, who gets to control that?
He makes the distinction between regulating the type of information that is revealed — a never-ending game of Whac-a-Mole — and regulating how it is used — the choices people and institutions make when they are privy to someone else’s information. This is his definition of “publicness.” He then lays out a body of ethics to help think about how to respect other peoples’ data, offering some specific directives (Don’t steal information) and also more general thoughts (Motive matters). It’s worth noting that many of these rules are not so dissimilar from the cultural norms our parents taught us for how to regard privacy in the offline world: Don’t tell other peoples’ secrets.”
Join us for a Live Talks Business Forum with Jeff Jarvis in conversation with Lisa Napoli.