“Do you realize who Aaron Swartz is?” asks lawyer that is digital-rights Stack. He answers his very own concern: ” The computer activist whom committed committing 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, this is for a tv show—and maybe maybe maybe not some sober-minded PBS documentary about Swartz. It had beenn’t also cable news or even a geek-centered sitcom like the major 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), starting its 5th period this Sunday.
Though putatively in regards to the legislation (and Florrick’s transactions along with her Eliot husband that is spitzer-like, the great Wife is becoming revered among geeks, as well as for valid reason: it provides the deftest depiction of technology on TV. In reality, it might be the force that is best for electronic literacy in pop tradition at this time.
Think about the episode mentioned previously: 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, and also the situation 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 people reveal up in court, making a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick along with 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 leaked videos run as both proof and a unlawful work in on their own? What is the legal standing of the viral image?
The plot had been ripped through the headlines, however the Good Wife went deeply to the weeds in thinking just just how technology transforms everyday activity. That is not the only instance.
Eike Schroter/Photofest: Due To Samsung
Within one 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 hires shills to publish feedback on anorexia-glorifying “pro-Ana” sites. The wife that is good once sued a Google-like s.e. for juking the ratings of a voice-recognition computer software company, within an episode en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge unexpectedly reveals angry technology skillz. “An attribute-based link-analysis is perhaps perhaps not just a shut system,” he lectures in the defendant’s attorney.)
One episode also mused Talmudically within the mail order bride show appropriate and meaning that is political of.
Whenever the show returns this autumn, plotlines includes telepresence robots plus an episode encouraged by Redditors’ bungled tries to determine the Boston bombers. Television shows and films, needless to say, have actually very long utilized digital tools and techie that is real-life as plot points—but seldom 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 offenders that are particular. On legislation & Order, the web is mainly merely 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 Wife that is good avoids Manichaean trap. It is 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 exactly how culture is changing through social media additionally the impact of Silicon Valley on nearly every part of life,” states Robert King. Their objective just isn’t to create a polemical situation for 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 used in a totalitarian culture like China may also be utilized to prompt the Arab springtime. Social media had been managed extremely simplistically on television. We thought it could be made by us our very own.”
A lot of exactly exactly how technology plays into the real life is a question of message acts—a normal topic for an intelligent show about solicitors. “Words would be the tools on appropriate programs,” King says. Plus, the show’s article writers’ room is full of tech-curious kinds; journalist Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived associated with Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternate cash system.
For theoretically advanced people, it really is enjoyable to possess viewing that is sunday-night 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 crucial, the way they misunderstand it.
As an example, the parade of wicked hackers in Hollywood films look a lot more effective compared to truth. But politicians have actually taken care of immediately the film type of blackhat programmers, passing regulations that clamp down on also computer activity that is innocuous. The Reagan-era Congress ended up being therefore frightened by the cartoonish hacker exploits in War Games so it passed sweeping computer-crime regulations nevertheless utilized as a bludgeon today that is legal. Now, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tropes that are tired. They said the employment 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? When you look at the ’30s we had “reefer madness” films; this”hacker is called by the Electronic Frontier Foundation madness.”
This is exactly why the Wife that is good is a stream of much-needed air. Let me think we could 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 headlines.
But we are narrative animals. Tales matter; fiction matters. Want it or otherwise not, they may be where literacy—and that is digital. If folks are planning to seem sensible of exactly just how technology changes society, we desperately require smart stories and tale-tellers that are smart.
The great Wife is a perfectly entertaining procedural, however, if it manages to show individuals the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the higher.