The German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT hosted a debate with the US-American journalist Jeff Jarvis (“What would Google do?”) in Munich last night. The blogger, professor and media consultant challenged the audience with his view on privacy and publicness.
“As a group, Germans are more private than anyone I know. They complain that Google and Facebook violate privacy. Yet go into a German sauna, and they are, male and female, together, sweaty and naked. Germans protect the privacy of everything but their private parts.”
Of course, he scored by getting the laughs for this story. The discussion heated up when questions concerning the future of journalism and media competence were asked. Later, we talked about the “share economy”. What struck me most was Jeff Jarvis’ statement about cultural differences:
“Germans are not a sharing nation.”
He explained that, in the US, people live with and learn from their mistakes (“everyone has a failed start-up”) and allow others to co-create/co-develop their ideas or products. In contrast, Jeff Jarvis argues, my fellow contrymen tend to hide failures and only present perfect, market-ready solutions. To be honest, I never considered this issue before. Following Jeff Jarvis, a co-creation process in Germany is radically different from joint product development in the US.