Us Now launches online

Us Now from Banyak Films on Vimeo.

Ivo Gormley’s new (ish) film, backed by The RSA and ThinkPublic, is a timely look at how social media is impacting on political power. For anyone who couldn’t make or didn’t get to know about last year’s London premier, it’s great news that the entire film is (as of yesterday) available to view online – thanks to some hard coding work from Chris Thorpe at Jaggeree.

Case studies include travellers’ accommodation swap network Couch Surfing, peer to peer telephone exchange The People Speak, people’s bank Zopa, music financing engine Slice The Pie and fan-owned football team, Ebbsfleet United.

I love the score (originally composed by Orlando Robertson), the time-lapse photography (courtesy of Guy Gormley) and the overall optimistic message: I like the way the music gets scarey and the tone becomes dark as back-packer Eric looks up his couch-surfing host in a dimly-lit back street – only to be confronted by a smiley bloke cooking pasta.

Not surprisingly, Clay Shirky dominates the talking heads (the film opens and closes with his quotes) but there’s a rich seam of interviewees ranging from Shirky and Don Tapscott through our own home-grown experts Lee Bryant and MT Rainey to the less familiar faces of “ethical hacker” Shane Kelly and Mumsnet user Lorayn Brown. But it’s a shame JP Rangaswami didn’t make the final cut: he would have been a welcome non-white voice in an otherwise monotone selection.

Overall, a great film. There’s only one thing I’d disagree with: the claim (by Alan Cox) that some programmers had used Linux to hack their car speedometres to play Ride of the Valkyries as “a reminder to slow down” when they’d gone over the speed limit. Yeah, right.