The film, We Live in Public, details the experiences of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of,”Josh Harris. The pioneer Internet dot.com millionaire founded Pseudo.com, the first internet streaming TV network during the infamous technology boom of the late ’90s. After achieving prominence amongst the Silicon Valley USA set, Harris became interested in controversial the human behavior experiments which tested the impact of media on society and technology to answer the question, what is personal identity. Ondi Timoner created a project initiation document to share major business-related moments of Harris’s life for more than a decade, setting the tone for her best documentaries ever on virtual worlds online and its supposed control of human lives.
Among Josh Harris’s experiments touched on in the film is the creative art projects of Orwell “Quiet: We Live in Public.” This Orwellian, Big Brother, totalitarian government concept developed in the late ’90s which placed more than 100 artists in a human terrarium under New York City, with webcam capture software and a laser microphone following every move the artists made. The pièce de résistance consisted of Japanese capsule hotels that was outfitted with live video cameras in every pod, and screens that allowed each occupant to monitor the other pods installed in the basement by artist Jeff Gompertz.
The film’s website describes how, “With Quiet: We Live in Public, Harris proved how, in the affiliate future of standard life online, we will willingly trade our privacy for the connection and peer recognition we all deeply desire. Through his experiments, including another six-month stint living under 24-hour home security camera systems online which led him to experience nervous breakdown symptoms. Josh Harris displayed the demonstration effect of the price we will all pay for living in public.”
“He climbs into the TV set and he becomes the rat in his own experiment at this point, and the results don’t turn out very well for him,” says Timoner of the six month period Harris broadcast his work experience abroad in one his lofts in NYC live online. “He really takes the only relationship that he’s ever had that was close and intimate and beaches it on 30 motion-controlled home security camera systems and 66 invasive microphones. I mean his girlfriend who signed on to it thinking it would be fun and cool, and that they were living a fast and crazy TV by Internet life, she ended up leaving him. She just couldn’t be intimate in public. And I think that’s one of the important lessons in life; the Internet, as wonderful as it is, is not an intimate medium. It’s just not. If you want to keep something intimate and if you want to keep something sacred, you probably shouldn’t post it.”