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From Anonymous to Bitcoin, The Good Wife could be the Most Tech-Savvy Show on TV

From Anonymous to Bitcoin, The Good Wife could be the Most Tech-Savvy Show on TV

“Did you know whom Aaron Swartz is?” asks digital-rights attorney Dylan Stack. He answers his or her own question: ” The computer activist whom committed committing suicide after a campaign that is unrelenting federal prosecutors to imprison him. Inside the memory, i am wanting to organize a class action against prosecutorial overcharging.”

Now, remember, it was on a tv show—and maybe perhaps not some sober-minded PBS documentary about Swartz. It had beenn’t also cable news or a geek-centered sitcom like the top Bang Theory. This is, in reality, a sleek legal procedural drama 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 dealings together with her Eliot Spitzer-like spouse), the great Wife is actually revered among geeks, as well as for valid reason: it provides the deftest depiction of technology on television. In reality, it may possibly be the most useful force for digital literacy in pop tradition today.

Look at the episode stated earlier: 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 actually is jailed for contempt, together with instance falters until—in an echo of this real-world Steubenville rape case—the activist that is online 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, making a spectacle. Meanwhile, Florrick along with her team wrestle with a number of concerns: Can faceless, anarchic online activists be trusted? Just how do phonecams alter a criminal activity similar to this, since released videos run as both proof and an act that is criminal on their own? What is the legal standing of a viral image?

The plot ended up being ripped through the headlines, however the Good Wife went deeply in to the weeds in thinking exactly how technology transforms life that is everyday. That is not the only instance.

Eike Schroter/Photofest: Thanks To Samsung

In one single episode, Florrick makes use of the transnational nature of Twitter to thwart Uk libel guidelines. 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 s.e. for juking the ranks of the voice-recognition computer computer software business, in a episode en en titled “Two Girls, One Code.” (most readily useful minute: The apparently senile, hard-of-hearing judge unexpectedly reveals angry technology skillz. “an link-analysis that is attribute-based perhaps maybe 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 the show comes back this fall, plotlines should include telepresence robots and an episode prompted by Redditors’ bungled tries to identify the Boston bombers. Shows and films, needless to say, have traditionally utilized electronic tools and real-life techie activities as plot points—but seldom with much nuance.

TV FREQUENTLY PORTRAYS TECH AS IMPLAUSIBLY SUPERPOWERED ALARMINGLY that is OR HAZARDOUS.

Generally in most shows, 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 online world is mainly merely a shadowy destination where teenagers are lured with their death. On individual of great interest, federal mail order bride federal government agencies utilize pervasive surveillance technology to anticipate malintent with pinpoint precision.

The Good Wife prevents this Manichaean trap. This really is most likely as a result 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 interested in exactly just exactly how culture is evolving through social media together with impact of Silicon Valley on virtually every part of life,” claims Robert King. Their goal is certainly not which will make 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 reality. The improvements 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 we’re able to ensure it is our very own.”

A lot of how technology plays when you look at the world that is real a concern of message acts—a normal topic for a good show about attorneys. “Words would be the tools on appropriate programs,” King states. Plus, the show’s authors’ space is full of tech-curious kinds; author Corinne Brinkerhoff conceived associated with Bitcoin episode after becoming interested in the alternative cash system.

For theoretically advanced audiences, it is enjoyable to own Sunday-night viewing that understands its method around SEO and crypto. It creates TV better. But I would argue that the nice Wife’s effect is much much deeper than that. It possibly makes reality better.

Fictive depictions of technology are influential. television and films have traditionally shaped just just how people that are everyday the world—and more crucial, the way they misunderstand it.

For instance, the parade of evil 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 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 regulations nevertheless used as being a appropriate bludgeon today. Recently, the prosecutors of Bradley Manning invoked these tired tropes. They stated the usage basic Unix commands—and white-on-black, DOS-style displays—was inherently nefarious, because hey: Isn’t that exactly just 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 great Wife is such a blast of much-needed air. Let me think we are able to evaluate change that is social and dispassionately, we 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. Enjoy it or otherwise not, they may be where literacy—and that is digital. If individuals are planning to seem sensible of exactly just just how technology changes culture, we desperately need smart stories and smart tale-tellers.

The nice Wife is just a perfectly entertaining procedural, however if it manages to show individuals the definitions behind a technical culture, therefore much the greater.

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