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May 6, 2010

We Live in Public


Andrey Ternovskiy, the 17-year-old inventor of Chatroulette, has probably never heard of Josh Harris but that makes him like most people.

Harris, the centerpiece of this documentary, created a real-life Chatroulette in the form of a late 1999 experiment in which 100 people lived underground with TV cameras running everywhere 24/7 such that anyone there could watch or be seen by anyone else resident.

It crashed and burned, as did Harris's next experiment, in which he and his girlfriend Tanya Corrin put their lives in plain view to any and all who cared to watch, with a sidebar chat room for observers to chime in whenever they liked.

Then Harris crashed and burned and bought an apple farm out in the middle of nowhere, followed by one last hurrah online that crashed and burned, with Harris then moving to... Ethiopia, which is where this movie left him in 2008.

Not what I would call enjoyable but absolutely riveting from my perspective, as I gain insight into what joeTV should be.

You thought I'd forgotten about that, huh?

I'll say it again for the umpteenth time, bookofjoe is simply a placeholder for joeTV.

But I digress.

Considering the nature of surveillance cameras in cities such as London and Chicago, and Facebook and its ilk, I think you'd have to say Harris was simply 15 years too early for his own good.

In the same sense that Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon was centuries ahead of contemporary New York City apartment dwellers, with their telescopes and binoculars trained on each other.

And like Dr. Kenji Takagi, the Japanese doctor who in 1918 used a urinary cystoscope to look into the knee joint and quietly invented arthroscopy.

Only in the 1950s was Dr. Masaki Watanabe, a former student of Takagi, above to incorporate advances in optics and machining to make the technique clinically viable.

An individual to whom a portion of the future is prematurely and unevenly distributed stands a very good chance of bursting into flames and then crashing spectacularly.

May 6, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Everybody crashes and burns at least once (hopefully not more) in life. Who cares if it is premature or not as long as you manage to get through it...

Posted by: Milena | May 6, 2010 10:39:32 PM

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