14 September 2009

We Live in Public

Directed by: Ondi Timoner
Full credits from IMDb

Sometimes, a movie's not the best way to tell a story — especially when it comes to non-fiction. Too many recent documentaries fail because they take compelling topics and turn them into bland films: Standard Operating Procedure was a far more insightful New Yorker article than a movie; the cheaply constructed Who Killed the Electric Car? could have been streamlined into a superior Wikipedia entry. But We Live in Public, about "the greatest internet pioneer you've never heard of," serendipitously avoids this pitfall by taking video as its subject. You need to see it in order to understand it. Chronicling the career of Josh Harris, web-video pioneer and social-networking social-experimenter, the movie examines the net-kid's decade-old happenings, then merely eccentric, and lays blatant their prescient relevance: Exposing, pre-9/11, the disastrous results of freely surrendering one's privacy to a new, intrusive technology — The Web — Harris is like a time traveler: it's like revealing the carcinogenic properties of cigarettes while Sir Walter Raleigh was still learning to roll.

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