“Do you realize whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks digital-rights attorney Dylan Stack. He answers their own concern: ” The pc activist whom committed suicide after a campaign that is unrelenting federal prosecutors to imprison him. Inside the 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 not some PBS that is sober-minded documentary Swartz. It absolutely wasn’t also cable news or a sitcom that is geek-centered the top Bang Theory. This is, in reality, a sleek procedural that is legal on system tv: the great Wife, a CBS show about legal counsel, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), beginning its fifth period this Sunday.
Though putatively in regards to 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 for valid reason: it provides the deftest depiction of technology on television. In reality, it might be the force that is best for electronic literacy in pop tradition now.
Look at the episode stated earlier: It starts with a rape test by which a senior high school woman tweets angrily concerning the football player accused of assaulting her. She actually is jailed for contempt, while the situation falters until—in an echo of this 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 people show up in court, creating a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick along with her team wrestle with a few concerns: Can faceless, anarchic activists that are online trusted? Just how can phonecams alter a criminal activity such as this, since released videos operate as both evidence and a unlawful work in on their own? What exactly is the legal standing of a viral image?
The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, however the Good Wife went deeply in to the weeds in thinking just how technology transforms life that is everyday. That isn’t the only instance.
Eike Schroter/Photofest: Thanks To Samsung
In a single episode, Florrick utilizes the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart libel that is british. An additional, the show reveals an energy-drink business that hires shills to publish reviews on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” sites. The Good spouse lawyers once sued a Google-like s.e. for juking the positions of a voice-recognition computer computer software business, within an episode en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge abruptly reveals angry technology skillz. “an link-analysis that is attribute-based maybe perhaps not just a shut system,” he lectures during the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically throughout the legal and governmental concept of Bitcoin.
Whenever the show returns this autumn, plotlines includes telepresence robots plus an episode prompted by Redditors’ bungled tries to recognize the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, needless to say, have actually very long used electronic tools and real-life techie activities as plot points—but rarely with much nuance.
television FREQUENTLY PORTRAYS TECH AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED ALARMINGLY that is OR HAZARDOUS.
In many programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals have now been 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 Wife that is good avoids Manichaean trap. This can be most 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 fascinated with just exactly just how society is changing through social media while the impact of Silicon Valley on virtually every element of life,” claims Robert King. Their objective just isn’t to help make a polemical instance for or against technology, he adds. “The show does not attempt to damn things, because I do not believe that’s truth. The improvements getting used in a totalitarian culture like Asia are used to prompt the spring that is arab. Social media had been managed really simplistically on television. We thought it could be made by us our personal.”
Most of exactly how technology plays within the real-world is a concern of message acts—a normal topic for a good show about solicitors. “Words will 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 interested in the alternate money system.
For theoretically advanced watchers, it really is enjoyable to own viewing that is sunday-night understands its means around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It will make TV better. But I would argue that the nice Wife’s effect is much deeper than that. It possibly makes reality better.
Fictive depictions of technology are influential. television and films have long shaped just exactly exactly how people that are everyday the world—and more essential, the way they misunderstand it.
As an example, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood movies look much more powerful compared to truth. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film type of blackhat programmers, passing legislation that clamp down on also innocuous computer task. The Reagan-era Congress was therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime guidelines nevertheless utilized as a appropriate bludgeon today. Now, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tired tropes. They said making use of basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that just exactly just how hackers look on TV? Into the ’30s we had “reefer madness” films; the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls this “hacker madness.”
That is why the Wife that is good is a stream of much-needed air. I would ike to think we could evaluate change that is social and dispassionately, that individuals can map the contours of y our electronic globe by parsing trenchant nonfiction and maintaining up-to-date with the headlines.
But we are narrative animals. Tales matter; fiction issues. enjoy it or perhaps not, they may be where literacy—and that is digital. If folks are planning to sound right of just exactly exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and smart tale-tellers.
The great Wife is just a perfectly entertaining procedural, however if it manages to find-bride show people the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the higher.