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Part Wired magazine, part SHERMAN'S MARCH, Doug Block's documentary look at various denizens of the burgeoning cyber-culture (circa 1996) also manages to be a wryly amusing account of his own mid-life attempt to get with the computer program. Block's access to the matrix is Swarthmore College student Justin Hall, a dread-locked, androgynous kid whose obsessive...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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Part Wired magazine, part SHERMAN'S MARCH, Doug Block's documentary look at various denizens of the burgeoning cyber-culture (circa 1996) also manages to be a wryly amusing account of his own mid-life attempt to get with the computer program. Block's

access to the matrix is Swarthmore College student Justin Hall, a dread-locked, androgynous kid whose obsessive homepage recounting the intimate details of his (and his lovers') private lives made him a legendary figure among web-heads. Hall (who's given to saying things like "Sometimes, I think I

really am, like, the physical embodiment of the internet") is obviously brilliant, but he's hardly the mutant he thinks, which turns out to be one of Block's subtexts; the young cybernauts he encounters are simply living la vie bohemien in the context of the computer age. Block also

examines his own family's experiences in the brave new world: Dad compiles genealogical history on a second-hand PC; Block's wife gets jealous of his computer obsessions. But it's the young idealists Block meets in Hall's wake — programmers, online journalists, web site starter-uppers —

who are the film's main focus, and after a while one feels oddly sorry for them. To a person, they started out feeling they could save the world and get rich at the same time; but by the time Blocks fades out (a mere two years later), they've all realized that neither goal is realistic. As usual,

their boomer parents had all the luck — after all, they didn't get disillusioned until they hit 40.

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