| November 14, 2013

Web is a documentary that shows the impact of the Web and its effect, good or bad, on civilization. A major part of the documentary shows the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program that seeks to provide $100 laptops for school children in the remote areas of the world who, along with their parents and family members, are shut off from the world, because of the lack of Internet access.  The documentary covers the origins of the first computer and even discusses when the first email was sent.

The delight of Web, however, is seeing the children’s faces in remote towns such as Palestina, Peru, when they first receive their laptops and the Flintstones or Jean Claude Van Damme is right there at their fingertips. There is such awe and excitement in the children’s eyes, and they are committed to learning and teaching family members the little that they know.

As children in some of the most remote parts of the world connect to the Internet for the first time, Web considers the impact of global connectivity on all of our lives. The film follows entire families, not just the school children, because access to the Internet affects everyone in the household and the villages located in the Amazon Jungle and AndesMountains as the children experience the program, while gaining access to the Internet for the first time.

Web covers both the benefits and complications that arise from digital connections. Alongside the poignant and sometimes humorous local stories, the film includes interviews with leading thinkers on the Internet, including Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte for an insightful look at our times.

The film is directed by Michael Kleiman, who added: “Web is a project that grew out of a decade long fascination with interdependence and technology. I was a college sophomore when I first read Robert Wright’s book, Nonzero, which retells the story of human history as one about people coming together and, with the aid of technology, forming groups that span wider and wider distances,” he said. “Later that year, I saw President Bill Clinton speak on the same subject. Noting the contrast between the age-old trend toward cooperation and current ideological clashes that lead to polarization, Clinton called on my generation to find ways to bridge divides between cultures.”

Kleiman learned about the OLPC in 2008 and appreciated the organization’s mission of bringing connected laptops to children in the most remote parts of the world as a perfect embodiment of both Wright’s and Clinton’s ideas. The arrival of laptops and the Internet allowed villagers to immediately have access to a forum for global exchange where they could engage with others from around the world.

At its heart, Web is a film about friendships – how they are formed, what they mean, how far they can stretch with the help of technology, and how they are changed in that process. It’s a tension we can all relate to and therefore one that allows us to recognize the common humanity we all share. Web is a powerful film, in that it highlights something that many of us take for granted—emails, social media, research capabilities—and even the availability of laptops and computers, and it illustrates that these common possessions are a luxury for others.

Web is premiering November 16 in New York. To find out more about the film, visit www.ahumanright.org/web/  or www.docnyc.net/film/web/.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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