Cyberpunk Review » We Live in Public

August 19, 2010

We Live in Public

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2009

Directed by: Ondi Timoner

Written by: Ondi Timoner

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Rating: 5 out of 10

Overview. Josh Harris, ever hear of him? Me neither… not until I heard of this movie. The “Wharhol of the Web” came up with the ideas of Internet TV (, statistic gathering, and the basis for many of today’s social networking sites. So why isn’t he mentioned as often as Gates or Jobs? Timing; The Internet wasn’t able to handle the bandwidth needed for his visions. Not until broadband became commonplace for net access. But by then, it was too little, too latte for Harris who left the high-tech scene and expatriated to Africa to avoid creditors.

Ondi Timoner

Indie filmmaker Ondi Timoner spent 10 years with Harris documenting his rise as an Internet entrepreneur, to the Quiet experiment, and his eventual downfall.


Rise of a dot-com kid. Harris arrives in New York City with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket, an a couple of ideas for the Internet in his head. His first venture is JupiterResearch, an Internet research company. In 1993, he envisioned television on the Internet and founded Pseudo not only had television (more like early vlogging before anyone heard of vlogging), but associated chat rooms for the shows. When he sold Pseudo, Harris’ net worth was now $80 Billion US. Luckily for him, he got out before the big bubble burst, but he decided to use that money for a “little” experiment…


The experiment: In December 1999, under some buildings in Manhattan, Harris constructed a “bunker” where he would gather 100 people. The people would be living in a commune-type setting with “pod” beds while under constant surveillance, and be subject to “interrogations,” though they would have free meals and a shooting range. The experiment’s aim was simple; To see how these people would behave living in an Orwellian setting. Things start smoothly enough, then went downhill fast. Eventually, after the new millennium, the NY Police and Fire departments shut the experiment down believing the experiment was actually a doomsday cult.

Though that experiment was over, he wanted to test his theory further by moving in with his girlfriend and installing net-cameras in their apartment. An incident that nearly leads to rape causes her to leave, and soon Harris has a mental breakdown. While Harris is considered an artist by some, there are some signs that he may have been insane in the mainframe before the breakdown.

Josh Harris as Luvvy the clown.

Afraid of clowns? You will be!

The Point of the experiments? It should be obvious now that the technology has caught up to Harris’ ideas what the point is: How much of our privacy will we sacrifice for connecting to others, or for fame itself?

Josh Harris

“Everything is free… except the video that we capture of you. THAT we own.”

If you’ve ever encountered targeted ads, you already have seen the tip of the iceberg. Worse yet, the information they gain from what you willingly surrender they can now sell to others. Harris’ “Quiet” experiment was a not-so-quiet warning about where we were headed… rather, where we are now.


Conclusion. Call Josh Harris what you want… visionary, entrepreneur, voyeur, prophet, ca-ca-cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs… the message he sent with his experiments is only now being realized by a small handful of people. For the rest, they may not realize or even care about how much “exposure” they’re really getting for their 15 minutes. Looking for a treatise on the negative effect of technology? We Live In Public answers that question in no uncertain terms.


August 19, 2010

comwedge said:

Awesome article, we need to read more about people like this!!!

August 20, 2010

I gotta Relax. said:

This looks interesting. But every time I read or hear some say the word “Indie”, I just want to throw up. I hate everything that identifies itself as “Indie”. God that shit is annoying. Oh “INDIE” I gotcha, the annoying new age look and that pacified happy go lucky sound that’s all over mainstream now. YUCK. Cyberpunk is the real “Indie”.. Ok I’m out..

Admin said:

suckle my cock!

Mr. X said:

Low correlation to cyberpunk themes? Come on, this guy created his own technology based police state…

August 21, 2010

Icarus said:


Not all indie is bad. You probably just live in a bad area, where indie does indeed mean suck. Indie is a word that gets thrown around by media. Its an old label that goes back to the 90s, used to describe alot of things that media didn’t have labels for. In 2010 the term could mean any number of things. I think in 2010 its more of a satirical word than anything. But indie-indie, as in Austin, Texas indie, is my angle. And as far as that goes, theres alot of neat stuff. NYC indie, Boston indie, and especially Portland indie could all be called suck. But I do love Austin. Also, cyberpunk is not indie. Perhaps it’s anti-indie?

August 22, 2010

Icarus said:

I just watched this was pretty disgusted. I think he was a dipshit, and see no visionary status to be accounted for.

August 23, 2010

Klaw said:

Ondi is known for filming people she sees as “visionary” and demented over long periods of time to track their life cycle, or one specifically designed to have one over the course of her films. She did the same in the film DIG. She tends to overemphasize their historical importance, and account for some tragic fatal flaw for their inevitable downfall. Unfortunately in both these cases, the subjects I don’t think were that important other than in their own minds. Knowing many people working in the dotcom media circles, internet driven television and camming wasn’t “one person’s idea” every VJ and ex-MTV personality was trying to angle some internet scheme from day one. There were literally thousands of startups that were trying to be media hawkers, that did nothing but set up business models and content tracking. Essentially Harris seems to be one of these business geeks that just bled over into the art world where he was deifed… so amongst hipsters he was a media genius but only because he threw awesome parties and probably told them a million times he was. I think I would have preferred to watch 2 hours of those parties, they were probably far more entertaining.

August 24, 2010

d00d said:

I’ll just leave this here:

World’s first cyborg

August 25, 2010

nyan soe said:

very good

September 14, 2010

Fray said:

I loved this documentary

October 19, 2010

syphatitus_z said:

josh harris is a lie - this movie is completely fictitious

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