Pseudo YouTube

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I was Googling around the other day looking for some vintage Silicon Alley article and came across a wonderful Wired article about Pseudo blew through millions of VC funds at the end of the 20th century on lavish SoHo parties, technology, and all kinds of behavior that no self-respecting startup kid would attempt in 2008. There are some uncanny things coming out of the mouths of this older startup set:

“When TV first came out, it had an impact like a social atomic bomb,” [Josh Harris] says. “But the mode of intimacy that I’m presenting, which we’ll experience via the Net, is going to be bigger.”

What’s so heartbreaking about it all is that Harris was right, really. Just at the wrong time. Broadband saturation wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be. No one had Flash (or any other capable video codec) installed on their browser, and no one really understood the notion of viral media. People sent links and an occasionally MP3. I had a collection of .wmv files that I’d DCC to friends over IRC, but that was basically as far as it got.

Harris is convinced that when broadband Net access becomes ubiquitous, millions of consumers will end up doing exactly what he’s about to do. “Of course they’re going to be watching each other,” he says. “It’s inevitable. Everything I’m doing will be considered commonplace, just 10 years from now. It’ll be no more unusual than listening to a stereo or watching TV.”

What Harris really had wrong, however, was the death of privacy, which is a generational fight which will take much longer to settle. I’m still generally unconvinced that humans can live totally publicly, though things like Twitter, Facebook, and Google in general are contributing to an erosion towards attitudes about privacy erosion that we have very little control over. Harris is obviously an exhibitionist who understood the power of the ‘net, and perhaps predicted phenoms like Tila Tequila and, but couldn’t speak for all of us.

According to Jayson Blair (?!) Pseudo liquidated their assets in 2001 after the bust and their inability to find more cash.

But where are they now?

Josh Harris’ name is virtually ungoogleable, and Wikipedia doesn’t offer any help.

His girlfriend at-the-time, Tanya Corrin, however, wrote about her experience in the New York Observer:

Josh liked to tease me that he’d be the most popular. Getting press is one of the things Josh does best. Since living in public was his idea, he positioned himself as the “visionary” and me as “the hot girlfriend.” I would have preferred to be presented as more of a partner. But it was Josh’s project and money, and he was starting to freak out about the latter, so I let it go.

But what about the artist, Nico Haupt? He seems to be running with a 9/11 conspiracy crew and selling a shirt that simply says “TV Fakery” here, as part of his Haupt Couture brand.

  1. Fred,

    good to see you’re blogging beyond 140 chars…. so Boing Boing did a whole thing on Harris recently, in which he proclaims that pseudo was a fake company apparently. check it:

  2. Thanks Fred. I just a good hour or so reading through that. It’s all completely fascinating!

  3. […] John points out the Boing Boing post about Josh Harris claiming was really a hoax: I now acknowledge that Pseudo Programs, Inc., a New York City based Internet television network founded in 1994 and sold from bankruptcy in 2000 was the linchpin of a long form piece of conceptual art. Pseudo burned over $25 million in private and institutional capital over a span of seven years. Pseudo was a fake company. […]

  4. He had a website with webcams & microphones all over his soho loft. Lasted a year I think.

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