Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Technology: The Gift and the Curse

I just finished reading Roger Ebert’s four star review of We Live In Public and while I don’t think the documentary is as remarkable as he thought it was we have similar viewpoints on it.  Sometimes when I am just thinking one of the things I think about is the effect of technology on our lives today. I didn’t get a computer and internet connection until I was 15 years old in 1999. Most of my friends were already tech savvy by then.

Now I honestly can’t remember what my days were like before I had internet access. Technology is both a gift and a curse. It makes our lives easier and more efficient but at the same time it both invades our privacy and separates us from personal interaction with other people. This is the essence of Ondi Timoner’s We Live In Public.

The documentary features Josh Harris (the founder of who all but lucked out during the tech boom of the early 90’s. Granted, he had a vision of the future no one else had, but that’s all he had. Josh did not have any real artistic or creative talent. He got rich simply because he was in the right place at the right time. This is proven by the fashion in which he lost his millions. Lucky people get rich and smart people stay wealthy.

Josh spent a lot of his money on an experiment called Project Quiet in which a group of people were to live on camera 24/7. Literally.  Whatever they did, however personal, was filmed and broadcast on the Internet. Josh not only envisioned the future of the internet in streaming video but also the future of television in reality TV. Perhaps he was too ahead of his time. It also didn’t help that he was a little off-the-wall, which prevented many business executives from taking him seriously.

After this experiment, which ended with the police shutting down the project on New Year's Day in the year 2000, Josh decided to do a similar experiment, but this time it would just be he and his girlfriend. This turned out to be a real life Truman Show, minus the entertaining antics of Jim Carrey and no producer in the sky. This project also ended in failure.

We learn a lot about Josh personally and it’s going to be difficult for audience members to feel any sympathy for him. He distances himself from his family and most people around him. Growing up, he said his best friends were the cast of Gilligan's Island, and unfortunately, he never really changed that mindset. Is Josh a scary example of our future if the growth of technology continues at this pace?

I would like to hope not, but at this point, nothing would surprise me after watching this documentary. It’s definitely worth watching because even though I was not surprised by a lot of what unfolded, it still does not cease to amaze and even concern me.

3 1/2 / 5 stars

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