Public Privacy

I’ve compiled some reading on this topic. All content in this post has been pulled or directed from Jeff Jarvis’ blog BuzzMachine.

Jeff Jarvis is hot on the topic presenting the benefits of publicness in his new book, Public Parts (due out in 2011). He believes in our current privacy mania we are not talking enough about the value of publicness. And, that if we default to private, we risk losing the value of the connections the internet brings.

He describes the value as including (and, I quote):
* Publicness makes and improves relationships. To make connections with people, you need to be open and share. When you decide not to be public, you risk losing that connection.
* Publicness enables collaboration. That’s the beta lesson: When you open up your process, you invite people to help you improve what you’re doing. It is also, of course, the lesson of open-source.
* Publicness builds trust. Secrecy doesn’t.
* Publicness kills the myth of perfection. That is, when we open our process, we are showing our faults and are no longer held at every moment to the myth of perfection that has come to rule our industrial-age processes.
* Publicness disarms taboos. Publicness was the daring weapon gays and lesbians used to tear down their closets. I’m not saying that people should be forced out of their closets; that is their choice. But I am saying that when they do, it faces down the bigots who made homosexuality a taboo; it disarms them.
* Publicness grants immortality. (Note to Andrew Keen: That’s a joke.) Publicness at least grants credit and provides provenance for ideas and creation.
* Publicness enables the wisdom of the crowd. If we all keep our information, knowledge, ideas, and lessons to ourselves, we lose collectively.
* Publicness organizes us. Cue Clay Shirky. Speaking and assembling go hand-in-hand as rights. When we stand up and say who we are, we can find others like us and do things together.
* Publicness protects. This will be controversial but the knowledge that one’s actions could be public have an impact. That’s why I’m not against cameras on Times Square to thwart the next bomber.
* Publicness is value. This is an argument I’ll make that what’s public is owned by the public — whether that’s governments’ actions or images taken in public space — and whenever that is diminished, it robs from us, the public.

Also, on topic is an article from Time (Web Privacy: In Praise of Oversharing, 5/20/10):

“Fundamental, privacy is about having control over the flow of information,” the social network scholar, Danah Boyd, argued in a much-discussed speech this spring at Austin’s South by Southwest conference. “It’s about being able to understand the social setting in order to behave appropriately. To do so, people must trust their interpretation of the context, including the people in the room and the architecture that defines the setting. When they feel as though control has been taken away from them or when they lack the control they need to do the right thing, they scream privacy foul.”

“…talking to strangers is different from handing over a set of your house keys. We’re learning how to draw the line between those extremes, and it’s a line that each of us will draw in different ways. That we get to make these decisions for ourselves is a step forward; the valley is a much richer and more connected place than the old divide between privacy and celebrity worship was. But it is going to take some time to learn how to live there.”

Lastly, is a seven minute audio from an interview on The Takeaway on the topic ‘Privacy in the Time of Facebook’ (5/20/10) with Jeff and Amber Case. Amber is a cyber-anthropologist and tech consultant. She explains how social networking sites have redefined privacy, identity, and the way we interact with others.