“Did you know whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks lawyer that is digital-rights Stack. He answers their own concern: ” The computer activist whom committed committing suicide after an unrelenting campaign from federal prosecutors to imprison him. Inside the memory, i am wanting to organize a class action against prosecutorial overcharging.”
Now, bear in mind, this is on a tv show—and maybe 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 great Wife, a CBS show about an attorney, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), starting its 5th period this Sunday.
Though putatively in regards to the law (and Florrick’s transactions along with her Eliot husband that is spitzer-like, the nice Wife is becoming revered among geeks, as well as for valid reason: it provides the deftest depiction of technology on television. In reality, it might be the most readily useful force for electronic literacy in pop tradition at this time.
Think about the episode stated earlier: It starts by having a rape test by which a school that is high tweets angrily concerning the football player accused of assaulting her. She actually is jailed for contempt, plus the instance falters until—in an echo associated with real-world Steubenville rape case—the online activist collective Anonymous leaks a mobile phone video clip showing the accused rapist laughing at rape jokes in regards to a blow-up doll. Anonymous people reveal up in court, making a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick and her team wrestle with a few questions: Can faceless, anarchic activists that are online trusted? Just how can 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 had been ripped through the headlines, nevertheless the Good Wife went deeply to the weeds in pondering exactly how technology transforms life that is everyday. That isn’t the only instance.
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 publish remarks on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” sites. The Good Wife lawyers once sued a Google-like internet search engine for juking the positions of a voice-recognition pc computer software business, within an episode en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge abruptly reveals angry tech skillz. “An attribute-based link-analysis is maybe maybe not a shut system,” he lectures in the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically on the appropriate and governmental meaning of Bitcoin.
When the show comes back this autumn, plotlines should include telepresence robots as well as an episode motivated by Redditors’ bungled tries to identify the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, needless to say, have traditionally utilized digital tools and real-life techie events as plot points—but seldom with much nuance.
Generally in most programs, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals have already been offenders that are particular. On legislation & Order, the online world is certainly caused by merely a shadowy destination where teenagers are lured with their death. 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 will be most most likely as a result of known 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 just exactly how culture is evolving through social network together with influence of Silicon Valley on nearly every element of life,” states Robert King. His goal just isn’t in order to make a case that is polemical 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 may also be utilized to prompt the spring that is arab. Social network had been managed extremely simplistically on television. We thought it could be made by us our personal.”
A lot of exactly how technology plays within the real life is a concern of message acts—a normal topic for an intelligent show about solicitors. “Words will be the tools on appropriate programs,” King claims. Plus, the show’s authors’ room is full of tech-curious kinds; author Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived for the Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternate cash system.
For theoretically sophisticated audiences, it is enjoyable to own Sunday-night watching that understands its means around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It generates TV better. But we’d 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 traditionally shaped exactly just how people realize the world—and more crucial, the way they misunderstand it.
As an example, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood films look much more effective compared to reality. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film form of blackhat programmers, passing rules 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 regulations nevertheless utilized as a appropriate bludgeon today. Now, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tropes that are tired. They stated making use 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? Within 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 are able to evaluate change that is social and dispassionately, that individuals can map the contours of our electronic globe by parsing trenchant nonfiction and maintaining up-to-date with the headlines.
But we are narrative animals. Tales matter; fiction matters. Want it or perhaps not, they are where electronic literacy—and illiteracy—begins. If folks are planning to seem sensible of just exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and smart tale-tellers mail order bride meaning.
The great Wife is a perfectly entertaining procedural, however, if it manages to instruct individuals the definitions behind a technical society, therefore much the greater.