“Do you realize whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks lawyer that is digital-rights Stack. He answers his very own question: ” The computer activist whom committed committing committing suicide after a campaign that is unrelenting federal prosecutors to imprison him. In 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 maybe not some PBS that is sober-minded documentary Swartz. It absolutely wasn’t even cable news or even a geek-centered sitcom like the top Bang Theory. It was, in reality, a sleek legal procedural drama on system tv: the nice Wife, a CBS show about an attorney, Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), starting its 5th season this Sunday.
Though putatively concerning the legislation (and Florrick’s transactions along with her Eliot Spitzer-like spouse), the nice Wife became revered among geeks, as well as valid reason: it includes the deftest depiction of technology on television. In reality, it could be the most readily useful force for electronic literacy in pop tradition now.
Think about the episode mentioned previously: It starts with a rape test by which a senior high school woman tweets angrily in regards to the football player accused of assaulting her. She is jailed for contempt, therefore the situation falters until—in an echo associated with the real-world Steubenville rape case—the online activist collective Anonymous leakages 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, producing 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 crime similar to this, since released videos run as both proof and an act that is criminal by themselves? What is the legal standing of a viral image?
The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, nevertheless the Good Wife went deeply to the weeds in thinking just how technology transforms everyday activity. That is not the example that is only.
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In one single episode, Florrick makes use of the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart Uk libel regulations. An additional, the show reveals an energy-drink business that employs shills to publish commentary on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” websites. The Good Wife lawyers once sued a Google-like internet search engine for juking the positioning of the voice-recognition computer pc software business, within an episode en en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge unexpectedly reveals angry technology skillz. “An attribute-based link-analysis is not just a shut system,” he lectures during the defendant’s lawyer.)
One episode also mused Talmudically throughout the appropriate and meaning that is political of.
Whenever this fall is returned by the show, 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 traditionally used electronic tools and real-life techie activities as plot points—but seldom with much nuance.
television USUALLY PORTRAYS TECHNOLOGY AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED OR ALARMINGLY HAZARDOUS.
In many shows, technology is painted as either implausibly superpowered (“Wait—enhance that image!”) or alarmingly dangerous. Procedurals have already 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 Good Wife prevents this Manichaean trap. That is most most likely because of the 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 exactly just how culture is changing through social network plus the influence of Silicon Valley on nearly every part of life,” claims Robert King. Their objective just isn’t to create a case that is polemical or against technology, he adds. “The show does not attempt to damn things, because I do not believe that’s truth. The improvements used in a totalitarian culture like Asia may also be utilized to prompt the Arab springtime. Social media had been managed really simplistically on television. We thought we’re able to allow it to be our very own.”
Much of exactly exactly exactly how technology plays into 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’ space is filled up with tech-curious kinds; journalist Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived for the Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternative cash system.
For technically advanced audiences, it is enjoyable to possess viewing that is sunday-night knows its method around Search Engine Optimization and crypto. It generates TV better. But we’d argue that the great Wife’s impact is much deeper than that. It possibly makes reality better.
Fictive depictions of technology are influential. television and films have long shaped just exactly how people comprehend 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 innocuous computer task. The Reagan-era Congress had been therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime guidelines nevertheless utilized being a appropriate bludgeon today. Recently, 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 just how hackers look on TV? Within 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 people 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 creatures. Tales matter; fiction things. Want it or otherwise not, they truly are where electronic literacy—and illiteracy—begins. If folks are likely to sound right of exactly how technology changes culture, we desperately require smart stories and tale-tellers that are smart.
The nice Wife is really a perfectly entertaining procedural, however, if it manages to instruct individuals the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the higher.