We Live in Public the Rise and Fall of an Internet Guru

We Live in Public

Before there was facebook, My Space, Twitter, You Tube, instant messaging, the Blackberry, and the rise of the social media phenomena of websites, gadgets, apps, and so on–there was a child-genius come Internet millionaire and guru named Josh Harris.

Harris, before and after the 90’s Internet bubble, predicted and saw the future–the web’s potential. Harris then proceeded to capitalize on it–both in the financial sense; but as well in its social and privacy sagacity. Harris would explore and manipulate issues that presaged it as we know it today:

While he wanted to be both the Internet’s pioneer, guru and prognosticator, he chose to do so by creating various “experiments” and companies, that were either before their time, or before technology or social mores were able to catch up to his ideas.

Josh Harris’ curriculum vitae sound reasonable enough—CEO and founder of Jupiter Communications, and Pseudo.com. After his companies went public, Harris became a multi-millionaire. By fashioning himself an artist like Andy Warhol, he proceeded to use the Internet’s ability to have other people view other people in their most intimate moments around the clock; while having them simultaneously “virtually” connecting with one another.

His obsession became his life, and his life was to control others, which became his raison d’être. Harris’ unhealthy compulsion led him to prove how his “ideas” were the future, by creating, among other ideas and projects, the New York underground venture “Quiet.”

The New York Times characterizes the Quiet project as follows:

Harris sealed some 100 volunteers in a bunker in Manhattan wired with cameras and outfitted with guns. He called this 1999 project “Quiet: We Live in Public,” though it was anything but. Over their month of confinement these pod people turned progressively rowdier, letting it all hang out, sometimes while weeping and screaming, for the viewing pleasure of the other inhabitants.

We Live in Public

We Live Life in Public the Movie

Ten years in the making and culled from 5000 hours of footage, We Live in Public reveals the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of”, artist, futurist and visionary Josh Harris. Award-winning director Ondi Timoner, documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives.

Harris, often called the “Warhol of the Web”, founded Pseudo.com, the first Internet television network during the infamous dot-com boom of the 1990s. He also curated and funded the ground breaking project “Quiet” in an underground bunker in NYC where over 100 people lived together on camera for 30 days at the turn of the millennium. With Quiet, Harris proved how we willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire, but with every technological advancement such as MySpace, facebook and Twitter, becomes more elusive. Through his experiments, including a six-month stint living with his girlfriend under 24-hour electronic surveillance which led to his mental collapse, Harris demonstrated the price we pay for living in public.  Source: We Live in Public

In a sense Harris was right, we all want our “Fifteen Minutes of Fame” everyday on the net, but at the price of selling our rights to privacy to be culled, measured, quantified, sold, and distributed without us having any control over it once we input our lives onto the Internet.

Too bad, because good or bad, it took a mentally detached latchkey kid, Josh Harris, to live out the dream and nightmare, that technology has and had wrought upon us.

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