One of my favorite film genres, probably my third after “Women Who Lie to Themselves” and “Showbiz Dramas,” is a little niche of movies I’ve named “Movies About Documents.” The basic requirements for membership in this loosely defined genre are that a movie has to have people with conflict between them that arises largely from numbers/data/information/pieces of paper, it needs to have secret meetings and deals behind closed doors, and people need to say things like “we know your secret” or “we’ve seen your file(s).” Espionage, scandal, deception, corporate interests, etc. are the hallmarks of many a story I love. Here’s an example/recommendation:
It was through this set of interests that I found my most engaging “in” with Download: The True Story of the Internet. It was thrilling to see the corporate espionage that underpinned the development of something I use so much. I didn’t realize, though I should have assumed, that so much of the story of the web’s development is riddled with fierce competition and meetings in backrooms with the stated goal of crushing competition and establishing control. It was ruthless and breathtaking. It was also fascinating to learn just how much tension always exists within the process of development between idealists and capitalists. Hearing about the struggle between using the discussed innovations for varying, in some ways contradictory, purposes was enlightening.
An important development that has occurred in the time that has passed since the last moment covered in the documentary is the transformation of the internet into something that is, for many people, inseparable from the majority of moments in their lives. The internet has moved into our pockets in the form of smart-phones, and it now it is even migrating to our wrists in the form of watches. There is hardly a moment that the internet is not available, that it doesn’t provide others with a way to reach us. We no longer need to wait to return home or get to the office to check our email or send a message; we can do it on the way. This is a development with huge ramifications in psychological, cultural, and economic realms. I am no neuro-scientist. If anybody wants to talk brain chemistry they need to find somebody else to do so with because I can’t kick it. Despite this, I still know that the hard-wiring of our minds can be changed merely by using the internet.
Hi. My name is Joshua Morrison and I am addicted to my phone.
It’s true. My phone has given me endless amounts of instant gratification and boundless information that I probably should never have access to. If I were to have to part with it there would be a withdrawal, there would be frustration, there would be weeping, and there would be gnashing of teeth. My psychology is forever changed by a plethora of scenarios I would never have found myself in without a smart phone. For instance, if I am texting somebody and they stop texting me back I am able to find out if they have stopped using their phone or just stopped texting me by checking their various social media accounts for activity. That is shocking when you take a step back and really think about it, and it can reduce people to a bundle of nerves. It can also really foster severe forms of addiction and create new, unhealthy, mental schemas.
There are huge cultural ramifications to this development. In many ways, the tech-savvy generations have a brand new form of addiction to contend with. Culture is permeated with people walking around contending with this addiction and we don’t really notice it because…well, fish don’t notice water. Given this massive dependency on technology and all things online, and the principle we learned from watching this week’s documentary about how every development makes venture capitalists’ mouths water, it is not surprising that new venues of making money from the digital world have emerged. Building and selling apps has become a huge industry, advertisements have found new homes in online dating and other sorts of apps, the race is always on for who can make the newest, fastest, and shiniest smart phone. I would love for this documentary to be extended and to see this development made into a narrative and learn about the behind-the-scenes martyrs and cutthroat players who have driven an industry forward as we have grown increasingly addicted.