Tech site The Verge has recently launched its second podcast; What's Tech, which focuses in on explaining single concepts from the various realms of technology that The Verge covers on it's site. This week's episode focused in on live streaming, and in particular the recent bout of Twitter-connected live streaming apps that have launched such as Periscope and Meercat. That's not what fascinated me about this episode though. In the front half of the show they talk about an Orwellian early live-streaming experiment by 90's entrepreneur and Internet mogul: Josh Harris, that went terribly wrong. Probably as a byproduct of the fact that I was 4 at the time, I'd never heard of Josh Harris or Quiet: We Live In Public, (his experiment) and so I've been eagerly hunting for more information on the story around the web this afternoon. Basically, this multi-millionaire who was obsessed with digital communication between humans invited civilians to come and live for free in a bunker underneath New York City for a month, during the entirety of which they would be filmed and streamed live to the Internet. They weren't allowed to leave, they were recorded doing everything from eating and sleeping to showering and having sex, and people actually did this.
The whole thing went downhill once the city of New York determined that they were a Millennial cult and decided to shut them down on the same day that they had people firing off automatic weapons inside the bunker containing the little civilization, and it seems like the entire thing blew over without much news coverage that I can tell once it got it shut down. I absolutely love reading about the early computer industry and early Internet time periods, as the way things were before I even touched a mouse fascinate me, but this has to top some sort of list as one of the weirdest things to have happened around that time, and sounds like something out of Black Mirror. I'm still a bit incredulous that I'd never heard of the story before today.
So far the most comprehensive bit of reporting I've found on the incident is the 2009 documentary: We Live In Public, which won several awards and chronicles Josh Harris' rise to success, the ambitious but eventually catastrophic failure of the experiment, and his subsequent years. (And whose website also appears to have been hacked?) If you too are fascinated by the bizzaro past happenings of technology or even just want a glimpse back into the turn of the century, I'd say it's definitely worth a watch.