Primetime Tech

Dec 20 2012 @ 9:53am

Thomas Rogers wishes the computer interfaces shown in TV shows were more mundane:

Of course, in real life, technology is rarely exciting. For the most part, we use computers by ourselves, hunched over kitchen tables or our office desk. Things break, and take too long, and our screen freezes when all we're just trying to do is watch the trailer for The Hobbit. Over the past decade, our familiarity with technology has increased dramatically, to the point that computer interfaces are one of our primary ways of interacting with the world and each other. That's why these misrepresentations are especially jarring: They misrepresent something that is fundamental to our everyday lives. Imagine if every time someone drove a car in a movie it was a Ferrari that spewed flames and put on a laser light show.

More seriously, this depiction of spy technology as unrecognizably sophisticated and beautiful feeds the notion that government agencies are mystical and magical entities. This may scare off the potential terrorists, but it also makes it harder to see intelligence work as something that exists in the real world, with all of the drawbacks and moral ambiguities that come with it.