Werner Herzog has become a cinematic philosopher and now his intellectual meditation is on the Internet and the social revolution it has caused.
Narrator/director Herzog considers an artifact of this new revolution: the first web-linked computer at UCLA. It’s large, crude and definitely not sexy. You can imagine the geeks behind this weren’t geek cool like Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, but we’re not concerned with people as much as the problems of internet age connectivity.
While he cites a famous New Yorker cartoon where two dogs claim, “On the Internet, no one can tell you’re a dog,” Herzog looks at the damage that trolls and others commit. Again the focus is on Southern California: Lake Forest. In 2006, Nicole “Nikki” Catsouras died after losing control of her fathers Porsche 911 Carrera. She was only 18. Her family was devastated. The coroner was kind and wouldn’t allow her family to view her body. The internet proved cruel. Photos taken against protocol by two CHP employees eventually found their way online and into the emails of the family.
Herzog also looks at web addiction and artificial intelligence. There are also things that are the stuff of nightmares, but are by no means comprehensive. There are good social media actions (#BlackLivesMatter) and bad. Social media can find long lost loves and relatives and even the owners of rings. The documentary might have gone further into its exploration of the ugly, the trolls and the hateful in connection with the Nikki Catsouras family.
“Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World” is worth watching, particularly if you haven’t heard of Catsouras. The documentary is available on Amazon Video ($3.99).