Posted on Monday, April 27th, 2009 by David Chen
According to Ondi Timoner’s We Live in Public, Josh Harris is “the greatest internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.” Timoner’s documentary paints Harris as a man keenly attuned to the rapid advancements of the internet age, always one or two steps ahead of both the conventional wisdom as well as the prevailing technologies of his day. Harris made millions when he started internet data-analysis firm Jupiter Communications, then parlayed that money into other ventures, such as the short-lived internet TV studio Psuedo. Psuedo was launched before Hulu, revision3, justin.tv or uStream; hell, this was even before broadband was as widespread as it is today, making streaming, high-quality television a reality (Psuedo’s programs were a bit choppy).
After Pseudo, Harris launched perhaps his most ambitious project of all: an experimental community/art project called “Quiet: We Live in Public.” Harris rounded up over 100 artists into an underground bunker, offering free food, drink, and firing range access (with a huge of assault weapons to choose from, no joke). Using an intricate system of cameras, he recorded their every move and provided each of them a TV monitor so they could watch the activities of others. When FEMA shut down the bunker, Harris launched a different, more intimate version of “We Live in Public,” installing dozens of cameras and microphones inside his apartment to record the actions of himself and his girlfriend, Tonya. He then broadcast the results onto the internet, to the pleasure of many an internet chat room participant. As the second iteration of “We Live in Public” progressed, Harris found that constant internet surveillance had the ability to drastically affect his psychological condition and, perhaps, the course of his life.
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