Tag Archives: TV shows

When Jack Bauer is using a computer…

Watching the TV series 24 is good fun. At least for me it is. One thing that always cracks me up is the way Jack Bauer and all the other good and bad guys are using computers. I have two questions: Why don’t they ever just use some Windows/Linux/Mac OS application? And if you’re working for the FBI, what operating systems are they running? Does anybody know?

The first thing you have to notice about the stuff on their screens is how flashy and shiny it is. Objects are flying all over the place, numbers and other symbols are steadily moving up and down in the background, everything is at least 3-D. No developer would ever do this to the system’s resources, especially when it’s purpose is to search through millions of fingerprint records as fast as possible. Such an interface is also highly distracting. They must all be dizzy at the end of the day.

The second thing that’s so fantastic about their interfaces is how they depict the operations that are carried out. Let’s say somebody has to crack some crazy file encryption. The screen then shows a billion symbols or so that are supposed to look like something is being matched up or calculated, much like the Matrix code. The same with database searches, for example for fingerprints. What database would visually fly through all its records until returning the correct entry? My favorite is deleting stuff. Files are actually really wiped off the hard drive in front of the user and the audience, illustrated by some fading icon…

I’m sure there’s tons of information out there about the way computers (and technology in general) are shown in pop culture. The big question is where the people making these movies and series get their ideas from and how their ideas shape the way computers actually develop.

Anyways, this is a nice list of computer usability bloopers in TV/cinema. And here’s an interesting interview with some industry people who actually design these fake interfaces. Any other information is highly appreciated!