Friday, 24 July 2009

"We Live in Public" - fascinating. Disturbing. And we got in for free!

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My mind is just freshly blown by We Live in Public, a film that, if you saw it in the 90s, you'd think it was a dystopian sci-fi flick.

Radio Wammo highly recommended it to Marie and I, as social media geeks, and so we rocked up at the theatre 5 minutes before it started, forgetting that the film festival is not like ordinary movies. It was sold out!

Gutted, we looked to see what other movies we could see, when a woman walked past, asking where the Film Festival was. We said which film? She said "We Live in Public". We said, sorry, it's sold out.

"Great!" she said. "It's my movie. I have comps, come with me!"

Talk about being at the right place at the right time.

So it was a fascinating, disturbing, entertaining, provocative, extremely well-put-together experience. Yes, we had technical problems with the projector, but to me that was all part of the show (I know, I'm more philosophical than most and that's not my reaction when the DVD player doesn't work at home, but meh, I knew someone would fix it - and they did).

Plot summary - late 90s dot-com millionaire does an experiment in shared, surveilled living. It goes a little bit crazy, he loses all his money, then he does the shared, surveilled living thing with his girlfriend. Doesn't go so well. He disappears, reappears, and is now plotting some kind of comeback.

His biggest problem? (well, one of his problems?) Being too far ahead of his time.

Rewind to 1999, and the experiment in shared, surveilled living underground - we have it today online, we call it Facebook (etc.) and we've grown accustomed to living under surveillance.

Great Q&A session afterwards, and Ondi's last answer was very profound - yes, we're living in a self-surveilance society that could easily turn into a nightmare. The only thing we can do - the biggest and best thing we can do - is be aware, be conscious, of how we use the tech.

I think I've always had some kind of awareness (give or take) because I need my alone time. But it's so easy to get caught up in the craziness and let the technology drive us, not the other way around.

Let technology serve you, and don't let go of your values. Don't let ego wash away relationships as the most important thing.

These are my fragmentary thoughts after watching the film. I'm sure more will form in days to come.

See also, Jacques Attali's book A Brief History of the Future, and We Think by Charles Leadbeater. Both very balanced portrayals of the future that acknowledge the dark side as well as the potential of technology.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the film at Netroots Nation 09 and initially thought it was a spoof performance art piece. But looking into it a little further it actually did happen.
A man ahead of the technology of the times had a chance to experiment not only with limits of techno but also with living peoples interaction and acceptance of it.
Definitely a cautionary tale but
also a Warholesc vision of our times.
Recommend seeing it!