ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Connected, Within the Walls of YouTube Space LA

By Ashley Yeo, Newton Lee

One the evening of March 4th, the night fell early in Los Angeles and the streets were getting chilly, but the there was excitement within the walls of YouTube Space LA, for the screening of Tiffany Shlain’s eighth film, “Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death & Technology.” Beyond the tiny live-sized, red YouTube helicopter, lay the glass doors leading to the production facility, where an audience gathered to celebrate the launch of the film across online media platforms such as Netflix and iTunes. Two years after “Connected” was released into the market, the film is still relevant in today’s world context. As laughter filled the halls, “Connected” still managed to not only educate the audience but bring about a sense of togetherness; a type of physical connectedness within the large hall where a hundred of like minded individuals sat.

It was an amazing vibe in L.A., as Shlain shared the core message of her film: Technology is an extension of the human brain and of ourselves. Tools, such as the telescope, enable us to see better; beyond our own capabilities. It is technology that allows us to connect more rapidly today, with more complexity than ever before. Interestingly, Shlain believes the hidden truth and bigger purpose behind the Internet can only be revealed when every single user of the Internet is online together. It is only by such that all human minds can become connected and interconnected to further understand and drive progress using the Internet as a tool.

As the film’s narrator, Shlain related Einstein’s belief that if honeybees were to be wiped out as a species, then the human race would cease to exist as well. During the film screening’s Q&A session, it was indeed a huge relief to learn the honeybees will, and can, outlive all of us. 

Speaking of Einstein, he also conjured the theory of relativity. Shlain personally illustrates his theory by unplugging from technology every Saturday—a habit she has committed to for the past three years. Despite her interest in the realm of technology and how it has connected everything and anything in today’s world, Shlain thoroughly enjoys being disconnected once in a while. “Time is relative and Saturday’s become longer when we’re not on our technologies all the time.” With a laugh she added, “Everyone should try it. Highly recommended!”

Tiffany Shlain’s documentary is thought provoking, to say the least. Hollywood Reporter called the film “a highly energized romp through a myriad of ideas about where the human race is headed.” Vice President Al Gore praised the movie for raising the public awareness of “environmental degradation, dizzying technological innovation, and population growth.”

So with all that was discussed in one evening, only one question is left unanswered: Is there a saturation point to this interdependence and interconnectedness that Tiffany Shlain has encouraged us to all build? What will come next after that saturation point?

The massive interdependence and interconnectedness of several billion minds remind us of the cyborgs in “Star Trek”. Indeed, someone in the audience asked Shlain the question: “‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’?” Shlain answered unequivocally, “Definitely Star Wars! I am a huge Star Wars fan!”