PR Word of the Week #18: Publicness

This week I am defining a word that is not actually found in the Oxford English dictionary or most other dictionaries for that matter; however, it is widely used and is an important word for our generation.

We make up words all the time: the verb to tweet, the verb to defriend/unfriend, sexting, etc.

Among the hundreds of social media words emerging in our society daily, publicness very important one.



As defined by Jeff Jarvis, the master mind behind the word and a visionary that examines in his most recent book, Public Parts, the tension that exist in our society between privacy and publicness that is transforming how we communicate, do business, and live our lives…

…allow me to define the word: pub∙lic∙ness: 1. The act or condition of sharing information, thoughts, or actions. 2. Gathering people or gathering around people, ideas, causes, needs: “Making a public.” 3. Opening a process so as to make it collaborative. 4. An ethic of openness.


The world watched as thousands of Egyptians gathered on Facebook then took their cause to the streets and demanded Mubarak step down – that is publicness.

Again, we watched as the world turned a simple hashtag #OccupyWallstreet in to a public protest against “institutions”, where people across North America took to the streets and parks of major cities, demanding a change – that is publicness.

More than 750 million people on Facebook and 100 million tweets a day, people share everything from a bad experience at a restaurant to their private lives – that is publicness.

Why should I care about publicness?

We are all a part of it. Whether you talk to friends on Facebook, connect with professionals on LinkedIn or start a revolution on Twitter, we are all a part of an increasingly public society, which in no way should scare anyone, in fact, it should encourage you to share more.

I had the great pleasure of attending Third Tuesday Ottawa on November 18 to hear Jeff Jarvis speak. I have never been so inspired and intrigued before. I couldn’t stop tweeting, he kept saying the most insightful quotes that made me want to share with the world why they should be very jealous they were not listening to one of the great minds of our generation.

Here are some tweets that came out of that night:

  • KristineSimpson: Privacy is an ethic. We have an ethicall decision to share+collaborate. Does not mean to share your breakfast on twitter, says @jeffjarvis
  • KristineSimpson: Internet architecture is changing our world, our society. There is going to be radical change: good and bad. Embrase it, says @jeffjarvis
  • KristineSimpson: No one can put their flag on the net. That is what makes it free. Free of institution. Just for us! Says @jeffjarvis #3tyow
  • Karen_C_Wilson: when you diminish what is public, you diminish what the public owns. (referring to Germany’s response to Streetview) #3tyow
  • krusk: “if you don’t want to listen to me, unfollow, don’t tell me I can’t say what I want” @jeffjarvis #3tyow
  • Karen_C_Wilson: #3tyow Wikileaks shows that it’s going to be harder and harder to keep a secret. @jeffjarvis
  • thornley: Privacy is an ethic about knowing something. The responsibility of what use is made of it lies with you. @jeffjarvis #3tyow #publicparts
  • TechAlly: The benefits of publicness #1: It allows us to make connections and improve connections @jeffjarvis #3TYOW

Did you have the pleasure of also attending a Third Tuesday to hear Jeff Jarvis? What did you think of his word: “publicness”? Share your insights on publicness versus privacy by leaving a comment below.

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