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PUBLIC PARTS by Jeff Jarvis

PUBLIC PARTS

How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live

By Jeff Jarvis

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4516-3600-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

In which we learn the meaning and use of the word "publicness."

Tech blogger Jarvis (Entrepreneurial Journalism/CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; What Would Google Do?, 2009) came to social media later in life, so he has an appealing, wide-eyed view of the online world. His writing has an intellectual, professorial tone, but with a sense of populism that makes it intriguing—plus he has enough juice to land interviews with both Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter founder Evan Williams. As such, readers may assume that a book filled with his take on the plusses and minuses of the publicness of social media would be at least somewhat vital. While the author provides interesting, often fun reading, he is not enough of a futurist to make it resonant beyond the next few months. The primary problem with writing about the Internet's speedy effect on culture is that the material is time-sensitive to the point that much of what Jarvis explores has already been examined to death, an inherent problem with blog-centric books. That isn't to say that the author isn't an engaging writer—his relationship with his techno-savvy son is enjoyable in a young-dude-showing-his-old-man-the-tricks-of-the-computer-trade sort of way, and he is clever with his use of old-school philosophers and authors to support his new-school theories—but his material already feels outdated. Ultimately, the book is an enjoyable, occasionally insightful 200-page magazine article.

With his second examination of the Internet, Jarvis delivers a readable, interesting package that probably won't be relevant enough to make an impact.