“Did you know whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks lawyer that is digital-rights Stack. He answers his very own question: ” The computer activist whom committed committing committing suicide after a campaign that is unrelenting federal prosecutors to imprison him. In the memory, I’m trying to organize a class action against prosecutorial overcharging.”
Now, bear in mind, it was on a tv show—and perhaps not some PBS that is sober-minded documentary Swartz. It absolutely wasn’t also cable news or perhaps a sitcom that is geek-centered the top Bang Theory. This is, in reality, a sleek legal procedural drama on community tv: the nice Wife, a CBS show about legal counsel, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), beginning its 5th period this Sunday.
Though putatively in regards to the legislation (and Florrick’s transactions together with her Eliot husband that is spitzer-like, the great Wife is now revered among geeks, as well as for valid reason: it includes the deftest portrayal of technology on television. In reality, it could be the most useful force for electronic literacy in pop tradition at this time.
Look at the episode mentioned previously: It starts with a rape trial by which a school that is high tweets angrily concerning the football player accused of assaulting her. She actually is jailed for contempt, in addition to situation falters until—in an echo regarding the real-world Steubenville rape case—the activist that is online Anonymous leakages a mobile phone movie showing the accused rapist laughing at rape jokes of a blow-up doll. Anonymous people reveal up in court, creating a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick along with her team wrestle with a few concerns: Can faceless, anarchic online activists be trusted? Just how do phonecams alter a criminal activity such as this, since released videos run as both proof and mail order bride a unlawful work in by themselves? What is the legal standing of a viral image?
The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, nevertheless the Good Wife went deeply to the weeds in thinking exactly just how technology transforms everyday activity. That isn’t the only instance.
Eike Schroter/Photofest: Thanks To Samsung
Within one episode, Florrick utilizes the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart Uk libel regulations. An additional, the show exposes an energy-drink business that employs shills to create remarks on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” sites. The Good spouse lawyers once sued a Google-like google for juking the ratings of a voice-recognition pc software business, within an episode titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge unexpectedly reveals mad technology skillz. “An attribute-based link-analysis is perhaps perhaps not really a shut system,” he lectures during the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically throughout the appropriate and meaning that is political of.
Whenever the show comes back this autumn, plotlines should include telepresence robots and an episode influenced by Redditors’ bungled tries to determine the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, needless to say, have actually very long utilized electronic tools and techie that is real-life as plot points—but seldom with much nuance.
television FREQUENTLY PORTRAYS TECH AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED ALARMINGLY that is OR DANGEROUS.
In most programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals happen specific offenders. The Internet is mostly just a shadowy place where teens are lured to their death on law & Order. On individual of great interest, federal federal government agencies utilize pervasive surveillance technology to anticipate malintent with pinpoint precision.
The Good Wife prevents this Manichaean trap. This might be most likely as a result of the known proven fact that the show’s creators and showrunners, husband-and-wife group Robert and Michelle King, are curious nerds. “I’m simply fascinated with exactly how culture is changing through social media as well as the impact of Silicon Valley on nearly every part of life,” states Robert King. Their objective just isn’t to produce a polemical situation for or against technology, he adds. “The show does not attempt to damn things, because I do not believe that’s truth. The advances getting used in a totalitarian culture like Asia may also be utilized to prompt the Arab Spring. Social network had been managed really simplistically on television. We thought it could be made by us our very own.”
A lot of exactly exactly how technology plays when you look at the real life is a concern of message acts—a normal topic for a good show about solicitors. “Words would be the tools on appropriate programs,” King says. Plus, the show’s authors’ space is full of tech-curious kinds; journalist Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived associated with Bitcoin episode after becoming fascinated with the alternate cash system.
For theoretically advanced watchers, it is enjoyable to possess Sunday-night watching that understands its method around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It creates TV better. But I’d argue that the great Wife’s effect is much deeper than that. It possibly makes reality better.
Fictive depictions of technology are influential. television and films have traditionally shaped exactly exactly just how people that are everyday the world—and more crucial, the way they misunderstand it.
As an example, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood films look a lot more effective compared to truth. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film form of blackhat programmers, passing laws and regulations that clamp down on even computer activity that is innocuous. The Reagan-era Congress ended up being therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime legislation nevertheless utilized being a appropriate bludgeon today. Now, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tired tropes. They stated the usage of basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that just exactly exactly how hackers look on TV? When you look at the ’30s we had “reefer madness” films; the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls this “hacker madness.”
That is why the great Wife is such a blast of much-needed air. Let me think we are able to evaluate social modification calmly and dispassionately, that individuals can map the contours of our electronic globe by parsing trenchant nonfiction and maintaining up-to-date with the news headlines.
But we are narrative animals. Tales matter; fiction issues. Want it or otherwise not, they are where literacy—and that is digital. If individuals are planning to seem sensible of exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and tale-tellers that are smart.
The great Wife is just a procedural that is perfectly entertaining however, if it manages to instruct individuals the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the greater.