Wednesday, September 02, 2009

For a Digital Pioneer, the Web Was No Safety Net -

Last week, in his first extended visit to New York in eight years, he said the $741 in his pocket was all the money he had in the world. He was in town for the opening of a documentary about him, “We Live in Public,” which portrays him as a visionary of the digital age, an eccentric who eventually retreated to an apple farm upstate to reboot his brain after a lifetime’s worth of media static.

“He is one of the 10 most important people in the history of the Internet,” said Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur of digital media who once chronicled New York’s tech scene in his publication, The Silicon Alley Reporter. “He may not be the most famous.”

On a walking tour of SoHo, Mr. Harris admitted that he has missed the spotlight his companies and spectacles once attracted. Standing outside 353 Broadway, where his bunker experiment had been, he recalled: “One time after the bunker, we had this party called the Media Mirror. For three hours it hit this perfect groove. Fine women, the hum of the people talking, the feeling you get when you know you’re at the right place in the right time in the world. It’s like being high on heroin for three hours and then you can’t get any more no matter what you do.”