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Publicness And The Gutenberg Parenthesis

Jeff Jarvis took the stage at the PICNIC'10 conference in Amsterdam last month to brush aside worries about privacy in the Internet era.

John Ryan
John Ryan on November 16, 2010.

Content is everywhere. News is process, not a product. Beta’s incompleteness invites the public to collaborate. These are the ideas journalist Jeff Jarvis brought to the (literal) table in a ranging, spirited, and at-times foul-mouthed address at the PICNIC’10 conference in Amsterdam this past September. Jarvis observes how the top-down hierarchy of the old media conglomerates is being replaced by the non-linear sphere of what he calls the “human link economy” or “publicness.” The public, not the producers, drive the new economy, as Jarvis explains, You have to leave your stuff out in public or it won’t be found.” A media based on links brings a new efficiency, as Jarvis points out, “When you do what you do best and link to the rest, you don’t do the rest anymore.”

Touching on the Gutenberg Parenthesis, which sees us returning to the chaotic oral tradition of the pre-printing-press era of 500 years ago, Jarvis jokes, “The Internet’s a fricking mess! So’s life!” The recent debate in Germany over rights of buildings to be pixelated on Google Street View raisse Jarvis’ ire, “Give me a fucking break. A building. That’s in the public, folks. The public is owned by us. When you diminish the public you diminish what we own. And that is dangerous.” Jarvis insists the public needs to assert itself and invokes constitutional democracy by presenting his draft of “A Bill of Rights in Cyberspace.”

We have a right to connect.
We have the right to speak.
We have the right to assemble.
We have the right to act.
We have the right to control our data.
We have the right to control our identity.
What is public is a public good.
All bits are created equal.
The internet shall be operated openly

Jarvis says he already doesn’t agree with parts of his own bill of rights, inviting the public to debate and collaborate in creating the principles of the future digital society.

Watch the presentation below:


Post Media – Jeff Jarvis – PICNIC’10 from PICNIC Festival on Vimeo.

Jeff Jarvis

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