“Do you realize whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks digital-rights attorney Dylan Stack. He answers his very own concern: ” The computer activist whom committed committing committing committing suicide after an unrelenting campaign from federal prosecutors to imprison him. In his memory, i am trying to organize an action that is class prosecutorial overcharging.”
Now, bear in mind, it was for a tv show—and maybe maybe perhaps not some PBS that is sober-minded documentary Swartz. It absolutely wasn’t even cable news or perhaps a geek-centered sitcom like the major Bang Theory. It was, in reality, a sleek procedural that is legal on system television: the nice Wife, a CBS show about an attorney, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), starting its 5th period this Sunday.
Though putatively concerning the legislation (and Florrick’s transactions along with her Eliot Spitzer-like spouse), the nice Wife happens to be revered among geeks, as well as justification: it provides the deftest depiction of technology on TV. In reality, it may possibly be the force that is best for digital literacy in pop tradition today.
Think about the episode stated earlier: It starts by having a rape test for which a senior school girl tweets angrily concerning the football player accused of assaulting her. She actually is jailed for contempt, additionally the situation falters until—in an echo associated with real-world Steubenville rape case—the activist that is online Anonymous leakages a cellular phone movie showing the accused rapist laughing at rape jokes about a blow-up doll. Anonymous members reveal up in court, creating a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick and her team wrestle with a number of 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 a criminal work in by themselves? What is the legal standing of the image that is viral?
The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, nevertheless the Good Wife went deeply in to the weeds in thinking exactly just just how technology transforms everyday life. That isn’t the example that is only.
Eike Schroter/Photofest: Thanks To Samsung
In one single episode, Florrick makes use of the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart libel that is british. An additional, the show reveals 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 s.e. for juking the ratings of a voice-recognition software business, in a episode en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge unexpectedly reveals angry technology skillz. “an link-analysis that is attribute-based maybe perhaps not really a closed system,” he lectures during the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically on the appropriate and governmental meaning of Bitcoin.
When this fall is returned by the show, plotlines includes telepresence robots as well as an episode motivated by Redditors’ bungled tries to determine the Boston bombers. Shows and movies, of course, have traditionally utilized electronic tools and techie that is real-life as plot points—but rarely with much nuance.
TV USUALLY PORTRAYS TECH AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED OR ALARMINGLY HAZARDOUS.
Generally in most programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals have now been offenders that are particular. 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 use pervasive surveillance technology to predict malintent with pinpoint precision.
The Wife that is good avoids Manichaean trap. This is certainly most most likely as a result of the undeniable fact that the show’s creators and showrunners, husband-and-wife group Robert and Michelle King, are curious nerds. “I’m simply interested in exactly exactly how culture is changing through social network together with impact of Silicon Valley on virtually every element of life,” states Robert King. Their objective isn’t to produce a polemical instance for or against technology, he adds. “The show does not make an effort to damn things, because I do not believe that’s truth. The improvements getting used in a totalitarian culture like Asia are utilized to prompt the spring that is arab. Social media had been handled really simplistically on television. We thought we’re able to allow it to be our personal.”
Most of exactly exactly exactly how technology plays when you look at the world that is real a question of message acts—a normal topic for an intelligent show about attorneys. “Words will be the tools on legal programs,” King states. Plus, the show’s article writers’ space is full of tech-curious kinds; author Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived regarding the Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternate cash system.
For theoretically advanced people, it really is enjoyable to own Sunday-night viewing that understands its method around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It will make TV better. But we’d argue that the great Wife’s effect is much much deeper than that. It possibly makes reality better.
Fictive depictions of technology are influential. television and films have long shaped exactly exactly how people comprehend the world—and more essential, how they misunderstand it.
For instance, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood films look a lot more effective compared to reality. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film form of blackhat programmers, passing regulations that clamp down on also innocuous computer activity. The Reagan-era Congress had been therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime rules nevertheless utilized as a appropriate bludgeon today. Recently, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tired tropes. They stated the application of basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that just how hackers look on TV? When you look at the ’30s we had “reefer madness” films; this”hacker is called by the Electronic Frontier Foundation madness.”
This is exactly why the Wife that is good is a blast of much-needed air. I would ike to think we could assess change that is social and dispassionately, we 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. Enjoy it or otherwise not, they are where literacy—and that is digital. If folks are planning to seem sensible of exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and smart tale-tellers.
The nice Wife is just a order forien brides procedural that is perfectly entertaining however if it manages to show individuals the definitions behind a technical society, therefore much the greater.