By Kevin Carney, Staff Writer
Author’s Note: I love documentaries, yet so many pass under the radar. My intent with this article is to present various documentaries that cover themes that are interesting and relate them to our day to day lives. I hope you enjoy it.
In 2009, Ondi Timoner released “We Live in Public.” Shot over 15 years, the documentary chronicled the life and social experiments of Josh Harris, an early internet entrepreneur and founder of Pseudo.com, one of the original web-based multimedia services. The company flourished during the dot com boom in the mid-90s, allowing Harris to conduct a number of unique social experiments throughout the late-90s, all dealing with the notion of surveillance and what he saw the internet age becoming in the coming years.
Amongst Harris’ experiments were the commune of Quiet in Manhattan and an ultimate chronicling of day to day life for his then girlfriend and himself. In both instances, the participants divested all sense of privacy, allowing every moment of their lives to be recorded and livestreamed for the masses. In both situations, things started out fine but quickly degraded as tensions began to rise, ultimately leading to aggression and aggravation.
Though the point of the documentary was to tell Harris’ story, it helped to draw an interesting parallel to the way we exist now. There are so many facets of our lives that end up getting broadcast to others via tweets, blogs, Facebook, etc. It is interesting to consider if there is a greater psychosocial impact of our connected world that we just don’t understand yet.
As our lives evolve in conjunction with all of this new technology, it is worth it to gauge just how much of our privacy we are willing to give up. Google Glass served as a signifier of Harris’ future. Though it ultimately failed to take off, Google has stated that they are still committed to the platform, though not in its present form. What their next step will be is presently unknown.
“We Live in Public” received the 2009 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the award for Best Documentary at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. “This is a remarkable film about a strange and prophetic man” said Roger Ebert.
Potential viewers should be aware that there are a few scenes of full frontal nudity and coarse language within the film. But the ideas on display are worth some consideration. It is presently available on Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, ITunes, and Xbox video. Its runtime is 96 minutes.