Jeff Jarvis on the Risk of Putting Our Lives Online

Question: Is there a risk to putting so much personal information online?

Jeff Jarvis: No, it’s a rather scaredy cat way to look at things. So what if it’s online, so what if it’s on the phone, so what if it’s on the street? It’s life and what we forget about the internet is that it actually, I think, makes life in some ways more intense and more social.

You know as I was testing search engines through the years, I would use, like other guys, the friends of my old girlfriend’s name and I would go through and search my girlfriends. Most of them didn’t have any Google shadow. I have a long Google shadow because I have a blog and a big ego; but one of my old girlfriends found me. Now that could not have happened before Google and we had conversations and I apologized for being a bad guy in the old days, and that was kind of a gift.

But as I thought about this, I realized that living online with these constant connections could even change the nature of friendship. If I were 17 years old today, and I was bad to my high school girlfriend, that’s going to leave me because she’s going to know where I am, I’m going to know where she is, I can’t get away from her; and I almost wonder whether that changes the way I behave.

The President of Google has said that perhaps we need to have a law that allows us to all change our names at age 21 so we can forget the past. But we won’t be able to. So our past will stay with us and I think that will make us better behaved. And when we’re badly behaved, well you know what, we have mutually assured humiliation because I had my drunk picture and you have your drunk picture and that’s life. So what’s the big deal?

Inhaling or not inhaling won’t be so important in the Presidential campaigns as we go forward.

So living online means we’re living with people. It’s a mistake to think that the internet is a medium, that’s media people projecting their view of the world on the internet. The internet is not, it’s a connection machine.

Doc Searls the blogger says it’s a place where we talk. So when you realize that the internet is really about connecting people with information and people with each other. It intensifies life, it’s better to have it. I get to meet people around the world I never could have met, I get to stay in touch with old friends I couldn’t have done, I get to do more business, I get to hear more ideas. The internet is a distilled life, it’s a wonderful life, it’s more efficient. I’m not worrying about what the programmer put on TV today, I’m choosing my own stuff. So living on the internet, I think, is living much better.

Recorded on: April 30, 2008

That, Jarvis says, is a scardy-cat way of looking at it.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

Preserving truth: How to confront and correct fake news

Journalism got a big wake up call in 2016. Can we be optimistic about the future of media?

  • "[T]o have a democracy that thrives and actually that manages to stay alive at all, you need regular citizens being able to get good, solid information," says Craig Newmark.
  • The only constructive way to deal with fake news? Support trustworthy media. In 2018, Newmark was announced as a major donor of two new media organizations, The City, which will report on New York City-area stories which may have otherwise gone unreported, and The Markup, which will report on technology.
  • Greater transparency of fact-checking within media organizations could help confront and correct fake news. Organizations already exist to make media more trustworthy — are we using them? There's The Trust Project, International Fact-Checkers Network, and Tech & Check.
Keep reading Show less