Good documentaries ask tough questions. Director Tiffany Shlain wants to know: how much internet is too much internet? Or maybe: have our digital lives started to over power our physical lives? Shlain has a self-professed love/hate relationship with technology. She founded the Webby Awards, which proclaim the excellence of content on the internet. She also is a major advocate for the National Day of Unplugging. Her latest film, Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death, & Technology explores her complex feelings towards the digital world in a year when she faces challenges best solved by technology: a father with brain cancer and a high risk pregnancy. Her poignant, fun look at our modern lives is intoxicating to behold, full of animation, archival footage, and action. Watch the trailer in the video below. Coming to select theaters on September 16th, Connected promises to be a thought-provoking look at where we draw the lines between our biological lives and our virtual loves.
A regular at the Sundance Film Festival (where Connected premiered this year), Shlain certainly has a way with documentary movie making. As such, I'm more than willing to take a chance on her film that I suspect comes down on a completely different side of the tech divide. It's not that I don't value unplugging. As I've discussed before, there are some clear health benefits to get outdoors and away from all the digital chatter. If you're addicted to checking your email (as I sometimes am) unplugging and getting away from it all is a necessity.
Yet Shlain seems to be questioning whether our emerging online habits are really bringing us closer together or not. Here's a short she made - Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg's Howl. It's brilliant, and a great homage to the original, but perhaps a little harsh towards the information age:
You see I'm one of those people, and maybe Shlain is too, that believe the blossoming of the internet has the potential (though not a guarantee) of pulling humanity closer together. As you can see in the Connected trailer, and on the film's YouTube channel, Shlain is pushing for new levels of human interconnectedness. Interdependence, balanced by our individual struggles, is not only what makes civilization possible, it's what makes our world great. The question remains, however, whether those that ask us to unplug think the digital world is bringing about greater interdependence, or stifling it with media overload. Personally, I don't think the world should slow down, I think humanity should get faster. Will Connected challenge my point of view?
I can't wait to find out.
This film really does appeal to me and I'm looking forward to checking it out on September 16th. I recommend you do the same. Listings for screening are available on the Connected website, and stay tuned to Singularity Hub as I may arrange an outing for the San Francisco Bay Area. Those off the beaten path can order the film and make plans for your own viewings. Once we all get done watching, the movie website has a wonderful interactive research map they're building with help from audience members to track all the related ideas and articles about the topics discussed in the film. Whether or not Connected accepts our digital addiction, the PR campaign is certainly making full use of it. ...man, I love the internet.
[image and video credits: Connected The Film]