The movie that saw 25 years into the future
Does “art imitate life” or “life imitate art”? Although this column has not turned into a platform to debate Aristotle and Oscar Wilde’s take on art, I started thinking about this when I saw my favorite movie for the zillionth time the other day.
It hit the box office in 1992, a time when public and consumer access to the internet was nascent; limited to college computer labs, geeks with discretionary income, or businesses starting to use word processors and spreadsheets on personal computers to replace typewriters and augment calculators. A time when accessing the internet was 1/10th to 1/50th of today’s speeds and without many of the visual cues we see through our browsers today. I remember my first personal computer, which I used for almost 7 years, costing me $2,500 in 1995!
Although this favorite movie of mine is almost 25 years old, if you haven’t seen it yet you may want to put today’s column on hiatus and continue reading it after you see it first. There, the obligatory spoiler alert!
This 1992 movie, “Sneakers”, featuring Robert Redford as Martin Bishop (protagonist), Ben Kingsley as Cosmo (antagonist), and other big name casts like Dan Aykroyd, James Earl Jones and River Phoenix, eerily depicts the current state of the digital world.
Some of my fellow diehard geeks may laugh at the idea of an almighty “box” that can crack security measures – i.e. password challenges and encryptions – of powerful government agencies, businesses and other organizations having presence in the digital world. I agree that the master key that opens all vaults may be, at least for now, a convenient device for a movie plot. But one must admit that break-ins to what had been considered impenetrable vaults have been a source of non-fiction media reports of the 2010s.
My favorite passage in this movie is when Cosmo says to Martin Bishop: “There's a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think ... it's all about the information!” I would also add that the currency of the digital world is not dollars and cents; like Cosmo said, it is information – specifically “your” information. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, I recommend you borrow it on DVD from the library or stream it from the internet. Either way it is an enjoyable movie that resembles our digital world.
An update to my pet peeve of pharmacies asking customers for their date of birth within earshot of other customers in line. On a recent attempt, a pharmacist accepted the date of birth on my driver's license and also accepted the handwritten birth date of my wife on paper. So let’s stop sharing our date of birth with strangers in line!
Technology and Organization Strategist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.
As co-founder of geek with a heart with the service mark "Hand-holding You in the Digital World" and co-founder of Center for Aging in the Digital World, a nonprofit empowering seniors through technology, Tak helps people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.