Review: We Live in Public [2009]

One of those documentaries in the ‘you have to see it to believe it’ basket.

We Live in Public is the story of Josh Harris, an early dot-com millionaire, who was once worth $80 million, and lost it all.

Part visionary, part madman, part wannabe artist; also a very weird and messed up guy, whose clown alter ego started turning up at business meetings.

Most of what is interesting about him is how far ahead of the curve he was. He founded an internet TV station and let it run wild years before broadband came along. Then he ran “Quiet”, a bunker with a few hundred people in it, cameras everywhere, interrogations, psychological testing, uniforms, and everything provided free of charge, an experiment that ran for over a month before being shut down by police; a forerunner of reality TV, and a formal experiment in what happens to us as we become socially mediated by technology. After that, he wired up the house he lived in with his girlfriend and put their life live online, interacting with viewers in chat.

All in all it is pretty berserk; thought provoking, unusual, and stimulating. Raises many questions about where we are going with our social media as it becomes a bigger part of our lives; the line between privacy and control. Well worth watching.

(Oh, apparently it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2009. I can see why.)

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3 Responses to “Review: We Live in Public [2009]”

  1.   Kate
    January 2nd, 2011 | 3:09 pm

    We saw that at the festival a couple of years ago (me and Richard and Svend, I think).

    The director did a wee talk afterwards, which I found more interesting than the film.

    It was all very hedonistic really.

  2.   Joel Pitt
    January 3rd, 2011 | 6:05 am

    Thanks for the film recommendation – I looked it up and enjoyed it immensely. I’ve heard some people tell me about the excesses of the dotcom boom, but this gave a slightly different angle about some of things that were going in in New York at the time.

  3.   Pearce
    January 6th, 2011 | 11:02 am

    This was the movie that convinced Becca to get off Facebook. Eighteen months on, she still reckons she’s never going back (and has now bought the dvd of We Live In Public).