Net Films, Take Two

Though I've never had high expectation for Hollywood, I do notice whether a film gets the technology right. Rosenberg [Wired 3.10] hoped that Johnny Mnemonic would go beyond the usual Hollywood cliches and, arguably, it does. However, the plot rests on the premise that a major corporation can put all of its critical data on a chip—but make no backup. This suggests that Hollywood is out of touch not only with technology, but with the millions of people who have learned—often the hard way—to back up their hard drives.

On the other hand, Robocop, a movie with no pretensions of realism, contains a wonderfully accurate portrayal of a database search. Robocop sees a face on the street. He plugs himself into a computer and searches through mug shots until he finds the face. From that he gets a name, and then a list of known accomplices. He searches through the accomplices, finds one that he recognizes, and reads his criminal record, which includes suspicion of murder. He looks up the murder victim, and finds his own name and face. This 30-second scene offers a good overview of what computers can and can't do and how people use them.

Wired 3.11


Steven W. McDougall / resume / swmcd@world.std.com / October 1995