“Did you know whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks digital-rights attorney Dylan Stack. He answers their own concern: ” The pc activist who committed suicide after a campaign that is unrelenting federal prosecutors to imprison him. In their memory, i am trying to organize a class action against prosecutorial overcharging.”
Now, bear in mind, it was for a tv show—and maybe maybe not some sober-minded PBS documentary about Swartz. It absolutely wasn’t also cable news or perhaps a geek-centered sitcom like the major Bang Theory. This is, in reality, a sleek legal procedural drama on system tv: the nice Wife, a CBS show about legal counsel, 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 husband that is spitzer-like, the nice Wife is now revered among geeks, as well as for valid reason: it includes the deftest portrayal of technology on television. In reality, it might be the most readily useful force for electronic literacy in pop tradition at this time.
Look at the episode mentioned previously: It starts having a rape test by which a school that is high tweets angrily in regards to the football player accused of assaulting her. She actually is jailed for contempt, together with instance 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 members 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 similar to this, since released videos operate as both proof and an act that is criminal by themselves? What exactly 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 how technology transforms everyday activity. 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 internet search engine for juking the ranks of a voice-recognition computer pc software business, within an episode en en en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing find-bride judge unexpectedly reveals angry technology skillz. “An attribute-based link-analysis is perhaps not a shut system,” he lectures in the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically throughout the appropriate and meaning that is political of.
Whenever the show returns this fall, plotlines should include telepresence robots as well as an episode prompted by Redditors’ bungled tries to determine the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, needless to say, have actually 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 OR ALARMINGLY DANGEROUS.
In many programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals were specific offenders. On legislation & Order, the net is certainly caused by only a shadowy destination where teenagers are lured for their death. On individual of great interest, federal government agencies utilize pervasive surveillance technology to anticipate malintent with pinpoint precision.
The Wife that is good avoids Manichaean trap. This might be most most likely because 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 exactly how culture is changing through social media together with impact of Silicon Valley on almost every element of life,” claims Robert King. Their objective just isn’t in order to make a case that is polemical or against technology, he adds. “The show does not you will need to damn things, because I do not genuinely believe that’s truth. The improvements getting used in a totalitarian society like Asia will also be used to prompt the Arab springtime. Social network had been managed really simplistically on television. We thought we’re able to allow it to be our very own.”
A lot of exactly how technology plays into the real life is a concern of message acts—a normal topic for an intelligent show about solicitors. “Words would be the tools on appropriate programs,” King claims. 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 alternative cash system.
For theoretically advanced audiences, it is enjoyable to own viewing that is sunday-night knows 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 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 type of blackhat programmers, passing laws and regulations that clamp down on also innocuous computer task. The Reagan-era Congress ended up being therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime laws and regulations nevertheless utilized as a appropriate bludgeon today. Now, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tired tropes. They stated the employment of basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that just exactly how hackers look on TV? In the ’30s we had “reefer madness” films; the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls this “hacker madness.”
This is exactly why the Wife that is good is a stream of much-needed air. Let me 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 headlines.
But we are narrative creatures. Tales matter; fiction things. Enjoy it or perhaps not, they are where literacy—and that is digital. If folks are likely to add up of exactly exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and tale-tellers that are smart.
The nice Wife is a perfectly entertaining procedural, however if it manages to show individuals the meanings behind a technical culture, therefore much the greater.