“Do you realize whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks lawyer that is digital-rights Stack. He answers his or her own concern: ” The computer activist whom committed committing committing suicide after an unrelenting campaign from federal prosecutors to imprison him. In their memory, i am trying to organize a class action against prosecutorial overcharging.”
Now, bear in mind, this is for a tv show—and perhaps maybe perhaps 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. It was, 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), starting 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 at this time.
Look at the episode stated earlier: It starts by having a rape trial for which a senior high school woman tweets angrily in regards to the football player accused of assaulting her. She is jailed for contempt, plus the instance falters until—in an echo associated with real-world Steubenville rape case—the online activist collective Anonymous leakages a cellular phone video clip showing the accused rapist laughing at rape jokes of a blow-up doll. Anonymous people reveal up in court, creating a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick and her team wrestle with a number of concerns: Can faceless, anarchic activists that are online trusted? Just how do phonecams alter a criminal activity such as this, since released videos run as both proof and an act that is criminal on their own? What exactly is the legal standing of the image that is viral?
The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, however the Good Wife went deeply to the weeds in thinking exactly exactly just how technology transforms everyday activity. That isn’t the example that is only.
Eike Schroter/Photofest: Courtesy of Samsung
In one single episode, Florrick utilizes the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart Uk libel laws and regulations. An additional, the show reveals an energy-drink business that employs shills to publish reviews on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” sites. The Good spouse lawyers once sued a Google-like internet search engine for juking the ratings of the voice-recognition pc computer computer software business, in a episode en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge abruptly reveals angry technology skillz. “an link-analysis that is attribute-based perhaps not just a shut system,” he lectures in the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically on the appropriate and governmental concept of Bitcoin.
Whenever the show comes back this fall, plotlines should include telepresence robots and an episode prompted by Redditors’ bungled tries to recognize the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, of course, have traditionally utilized electronic tools and real-life techie activities as plot points—but seldom with much nuance.
television FREQUENTLY PORTRAYS TECH AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED ALARMINGLY that is OR HAZARDOUS.
Generally in most programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals have now been specific offenders. On legislation & Order, the world wide web is certainly caused by only a shadowy spot where teenagers are lured for their death. On individual of great interest, federal federal government agencies utilize pervasive surveillance technology to anticipate malintent with pinpoint precision.
The Good Wife avoids this Manichaean trap. This can be most most likely as a result of 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 just how culture is changing through social media as well as the influence of Silicon Valley on nearly every element of life,” claims Robert King. Their objective just isn’t to produce a case that is polemical or against technology, he adds. “The show does not you will need to damn things, because I do not believe’s truth. The improvements getting used in a totalitarian culture like Asia may also be used to prompt the Arab springtime. Social media was managed really simplistically on television. We thought we’re able to allow it to be our very own.”
Most of exactly exactly how technology plays within the real life is a concern of message acts—a normal topic for an intelligent show about attorneys. “Words would be the tools on appropriate programs,” King says. Plus, the show’s article writers’ space is filled up with tech-curious kinds; author Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived associated with Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternate cash system.
For theoretically sophisticated watchers, it is enjoyable to possess Sunday-night watching that understands its means around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It creates 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 how people that are everyday the world—and more essential, the way they misunderstand it.
For instance, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood films look much more effective compared to truth. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film form of blackhat programmers, passing legislation that clamp down on also computer activity that is innocuous. The Reagan-era Congress had been therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime legislation nevertheless utilized as being a bludgeon mail order brides today that is legal. Recently, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tropes that are tired. They stated the usage of basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that just just exactly how hackers look on TV? When you look at the ’30s we had “reefer madness” movies; this”hacker is called by the Electronic Frontier Foundation madness.”
This is exactly why the nice Wife is such a blast of much-needed air. I would ike to think we are able to 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 news headlines.
But we are narrative animals. Tales matter; fiction issues. Want it or otherwise not, they are where digital literacy—and illiteracy—begins. If folks are likely to seem sensible of just just how technology changes society, we desperately require smart stories and tale-tellers that are smart.
The great Wife is a procedural that is perfectly entertaining however if it manages to show individuals the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the higher.