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We Live In Public

Posted by 40deuce on 8:40 PM in , ,

I was planning on writing my year end blog tonight, but I'm now saving it for a few days so that I could write about this great documentary I saw yesterday.

Yesterday I was invited over to some friends' place to watch the documentary We Live In Public. It's dubbed the story of the greatest internet pioneer you've never heard of. The tag line does not lie.

We Live In Public is the story of an internet entrepreneur named Josh Harris. Josh Harris was a leader in the dot-com scene/ explosion in the end of the 90's. He started the first internet television network called Pseudo, but was obsessed with the idea of putting people's lives on the internet. He hit the hight of his obsession with two projects, or experiments as he called them, both with the title of We Live In Public.

The first "experirment" was actually called Quiet: We Live In Public. For this project Harris took 100 people and had them live in an underground bunker like building he specially built for a month. Inside the bunker he had set up pods for sleeping and hundreds of cameras and TVs that only showed what was on the cameras. The people were given free food, drink, board and even artillery (they had a shooting range in the bunker) in exchange for Harris being allowed to tape everything and probe for information from the inhabitants. The thing that was unclear to me was if this whole thing was streaming to the outside world on the internet, but I assumed it was given the nature of the man. It looks like it started off fun, but people eventually started to go a bit nuts with their whole lives being viewed publicly 24/7.

The second "experiment" Harris tried was just called We Live In Public. This was the first ever reality show almost. For this project Harris wired up his entire home with cameras and streamed the life of him and his then girlfriend to the world along with an interactive chat feature. Again, the pressure of being in the eye of the public 24/7 proved to be too much and his girlfriend left him and he eventually became frustrated with it and shut it down.

While these experiments on their own seemed really interesting, it was the commentary of the film and how ahead of his time Harris was that really struck me.

Today, social media is exactly like Harris' dream of what the internet would become. It's people talking about and sharing their lives with complete strangers via the interwebs. Through the use of blogs and Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and Flickr and other forms of web 2.0 we are all sharing our lives. Some more than others, but still enough of us that it's become almost the norm. Harris saw this happening over 10 years ago.

I don't want to ruin the whole film for you because I really think that everyone who lives and plays on the interwebs should see this film, but I need to give you one more quote from the movie. Harris makes a great play on Andy Warhols' famous "15 minutes of fame" idea by saying (and this may or may not be an exact quote as I'm working from memory), "people want their 15 minutes of fame... every day." I think that perfectly summarizes how some of us internet folk are everyday.

Yes, we do it for the social interaction and to share ideas in ways we couldn't 10 or 15 years ago, but we also do it for personal reasons. We all want to do something extraordinary and more than that, we want to be recognized for it. Even I'm guilty of this. In a world where we can be known around the world for something small, why wouldn't we constantly try to stand out?? Why wouldn't we try anything to be in the eye of as much public as we can if we have the means to??

The question will soon become though, like it did in the movie, how long can live our lives in public?? How long will social media be like it is?? How much of our lives can we share before we NEED to pull back??

Check out the trailer for We Live In Public here:




If you've seen the movie, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about it. If you haven't seen the movie, see it, then let me know what you think. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to see it, I'd still love to know your thoughts about living our lives in public through the internet, so leave me a comment and lets talk about it.

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Why the World Was Ready For WikiLeaks

Posted by 40deuce on 7:47 PM in , , ,

I'm by no means a big fan of politics. I pay attention enough to have some idea of what's going on here and there, but not much beyond that. But, like a large portion of the world I've become kind of enthralled by WikiLeaks. (I linked to a Google search because the web address for the site keeps changing)

While some of the things that have been released by the information leaking organization are chock full of interesting information about some of the most powerful countries in the world, I don't want to talk about that in this post. I don't want to talk about the continuing adventures of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. I don't even really want to talk about WikiLeaks specifically. What I do want to talk about is how from a social media slash PR perspective, the world was ready for something like WikiLeaks.

While some of the world has a certain perspective on PR people as "spin artists", those in the industry know different. One of the first things they told me in PR school was "don't lie." People want the truth. If you're going to give the public information about something, don't lie. There are certain ways to handle certain situations, but most seasoned PR professionals will tell you that lying usually comes back to bite you in the ass.

Then, In social media we talk a lot about transparency. Transparency is almost the exact same thing as "don't lie", but people in social media like to use it more. It also goes a bit beyond just don't lie and covers ideas like don't hide information, full disclosure and be accountable for your own actions. People now demand transparency from companies and celebrities and pretty much everyone in the world through social media.

If we demand these things from companies and people we look up to, why would we not demand the same from our governments?? The answer is we do, most people just wouldn't know how to act on that. Luckily though, some do.

While I don't believe some information should go out, such as releasing the names of spies or anything that really puts lives at risks, there are some things that people wanted to know their governments are up to. Sometimes governments do things that are morally wrong and more and more people are starting to stand up against this. There is no way to make them stop if we don't know about these things. The release of this information helps to hold people accountable for their actions. This is what the majority of people demand today.

Of course the people involved in the information released are upset, but that's what happens when dirty secrets get out. It's no different from when anyone's secrets get out. And when secrets get out we (usually) call people on them and want them to be accountable for their actions.

When companies do things that are immoral we call them out for it. To think that the same shouldn't be done with governments is just silly. People always want more information and when they find things that are wrong they want people to take responsibility for it. WikiLeaks has helped to bring some of that information to light for people to see.

That's why I think the world was ready for something like WikiLeaks.

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