Tired of buzzwords, empty ideas, and the titanic egos that rule tech and media?
You are not alone.
People just like you have found solace in the Fake Jeff Jarvis Twitter account. The account satirizes the current affairs of tech and media one tweet at a time.
We reached out to the real Jeff Jarvis, a noted professor and journalist, to get his take: “I can only wish it were in the hands of a better comedian. Sometime ago I did ask him to have a phone conversation. He at first agreed but then apparently wimped out.”
What follows is a lightly-edited transcript of our conversation with the creator of the account.
BUSINESS INSIDER: Do you care to disclose your true identity?
RURIK BRADBURY: Sure, I am Rurik Bradbury, a co-founder of the startup Unison, which is a tool that makes team communication faster and more organised. Separately I have been in tech for a long time and am a sceptic of tech jargon.
BI: For the normals, who is Jeff Jarvis?
RURIK BRADBURY: Jeff Jarvis is a professor at CUNY and a well-known early blogger. His focus is on new media and the transition of the print world to online, plus the rise of social media.
BI: Why satirize the guy?
RB: He is emblematic of a fairly radical group of people who advocate for “openness” of the internet and “publicness” of what was typically private information in earlier times. Often, his positions go too far, and he ends up cheerleading for commercial entities as if they were consumer advocacy groups. He also takes aggressive positions on traditional monetization of content and paywalls (he’s against it!) and the way social media can foment revolutions, like the Arab Spring (he likes that!). Jeff Jarvis talks broadly about tech, politics, journalism and more, so there is plenty to satirize.
BI: What are some of the more ridiculous things he’s actually said in real life?
RB: Here are some choice phrases.
“Creepy is sometimes just a synonym for the unfamiliar.”
“Owning pipelines, people, products or even intellectual property is no longer the key to success – openness is.”
“Google is the new world’s ambassador to the old world.”
“Each time you don’t share, a relationship loses its wings.”
“Nobody wants to be in the business of stuff anymore…Google’s economy is more appealing.”
“The link changes everything.”
BI: What are some of your prouder tweets and why?
RB: What I enjoyed the most was creating a sub-vocabulary for internet gurus. For example the concepts of “nextification,” “herdsourcing,” “Change 2.0,” or “Journalism 3.0.” As part of the character, I created a fictional technology “unconference” called mogadishu:reinvent. My favourite tweets are about Syria or the Arab Spring, and imply a connection between mundane tech announcements and significant political shifts, as if Silicon Valley product launches were directly driving the fortunes of President Assad, or the Syrian rebels. For example:
“Good news for the Syrian rebels: Twitter released a new iPhone client.”
“Perfect timing for the new Nexus 7 tablet – should help keep Morsy’s radicalism in check.”
“I wonder: could the threat of Twitter Cards bring Kim Jong Un back to the negotiating table?”
BI: Any idea what Jarvis thinks of your Twitter account?
RB: I have heard that he greatly dislikes it, but I don’t know this for sure.
BI: Has he ever tried to communicate with you?
RB: We have interacted a couple of times on Twitter, notably . He also contacted me once via DM asking to talk. Did not talk again since then, however.
BI: Why are you so cavalier about your true identity?
RB: I don’t feel like there is anything to hide, and I don’t even feel the parody is especially mean. To be fair to Jeff Jarvis, he is actually quite different from the parody character: he makes up far fewer silly phrases and I like/agree with plenty of his comments on internet life. The @profjeffjarvis character is a much broader spoof of internet guruism. It mixes Jeff Jarvis, Clay Shirky, Tim Ferriss, and Seth Godin, among others.
BI: What can you tell us about your actual life?
RB: I’m a Brit and have been in New York for about 10 years. I live in Harlem with my wife and kids. My main hobby is chasing our two boys around, trying to stop them breaking things.
BI: When can we expect news of the Fake Jeff Jarvis book deal?
RB: A few people asked about it, but I’m too busy with Unison to extend my satire side project further. Also I think the audience might be a bit too niche – it’s very “inside baseball.” On the other, Fake Jeff Jarvis might ask, “is niche the new mass-market?”
BI: Any parting words of wisdom from Fake Jeff Jarvis?
RB: Always be nextifying your platform.
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