He Lived in Public

Friday, September 18, 2009


The new film We Live in Public focuses on Josh Harris, whom the film calls “the greatest internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.” The film offers a window into Harris’s psyche, and the impacts of living in a digital, recorded age. Director Ondi Timoner talks about this web entrepreneur’s fascination with privacy, and with recording life’s every moment -- including the most intimate -- 24/7.

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Comments [5]

Chris Gray from New Haven

I do vaguely remember DeBord, though McLuhan's works were my Bible. Being theatrical by both nature and training, I need some semblance of my Deus Ex Machina, my wings, my curtain and my backstage, even when playing in the round, so I knew Harris had to heading for insanity to try living in public.

I could present what would appear to be a fair approximation of it (some would say my radio and television programs or my Facebook pages did or do so) but it's all just for show.

As with the old saw, "you can imprison my body but not my mind", privacy, too, is in the mind.

Sep. 25 2009 12:37 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

The sad thing is that the more "reality" shows there are, the more people get used to the idea of living in public, the less people value their privacy, the more opportunities for those that wish it to take advantage of people's information.

I fear for the future development of western societies.

Sep. 23 2009 05:59 AM
Christa Rodriguez from Wisconsin

I come from a generation in between. I remember a time before the internet, but at the same time, my coming of age had as much to do with the internet as it did my first dance. This story was a cold slap in the face. I joined Facebook when it was a site for college kids only. When the status updates started, I just played along. In light of data mining stories, a simple action like tweeting seems so tame. It's something that people chose to do, so how could it be so bad?
The line about everything being free, except the video tape is what woke me up. The information that we put out on the internet is out there forever. In it's way, it's worse than corporations data mining. I at least know that that corporation is going to use my data to show me ads of things that I might like. Tweets about what I had for lunch, or where I'm driving are only good for stalking. We are trading our privacy for a little bit of fame.
So, just op out right? Well, the internet has a saying, screen shot, or it didn't happen. What happens when that applies to what you do with your life. Blog it, or it didn't happen. It may not be the end of the world, but it could be the end of privacy.

Sep. 22 2009 08:31 PM
MattFriedrichs from New York

Unlike Josh Harris' bunker, people can opt out of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Status updates, like postcards, phone calls and even greetings on the street are a voluntary activity. Harris' actions may serve as a warning about where we can end up with social media, but they are by no means predictive of all the paths this technology may take, both good and bad.

Sep. 20 2009 09:54 PM

Hello Folks,

I am amazed that I never heard the Josh Harris story before this. The channelling of "Mrs. Howell" from Gilligan is beyond the beyond, just no words.

In another vein, two of the things that story brought to my mind were the Big Brother TV shows (and the PBS Loud family before) and Guy Debord, author of Society of the Spectacle. I was surprised no one made what seemed to me to be an obvious reference to people's more intimate moments being recorded on BB as being the perhaps unwitting result of Harris' disasterous recording of his personal life.

But I wasn't surprised that no one mentioned Guy Debord even though in 1967, long before Harris exhibited the corrosive affects of being "validated" on camera, Debord made a serious if dense treatise on just that.

Debord's ideas are the underside of Macluhan's happy global village. They both published influential media treatise in 1967. I know you Marshall and probably know Guy. But you never mention the latter, pity.

Sep. 20 2009 12:22 AM

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