For anyone considering a thesis project centered around digital technologies or networking, these hour long BBC documentaries (3 episodes in total) by BAFTA award winner, and personal hero of mine, Adam Curtis, would be an essential viewing experience. I promise this will not disappoint and is well worth the time investment.
A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the
machines they have built. Although we don’t realize it, the way we see
everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. It
claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us.
1. Love and Power.
This is the story of the dream that rose up in the 1990s that computers
could create a new kind of stable world. They would bring about a new
kind global capitalism free of all risk and without the boom and bust of
the past. They would also abolish political power and create a new kind
of democracy through the Internet where millions of individuals would
be connected as nodes in cybernetic systems – without hierarchy.
2. The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts.
This is the story of how our modern scientific idea of nature, the
self-regulating ecosystem, is actually a machine fantasy. It has little
to do with the real complexity of nature. It is based on cybernetic
ideas that were projected on to nature in the 1950s by ambitious
scientists. A static machine theory of order that sees humans, and
everything else on the planet, as components – cogs – in a system.
3. The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine in the Monkey.
This episode looks at why we humans find this machine vision so
beguiling. The film argues it is because all political dreams of
changing the world for the better seem to have failed – so we have
retreated into machine-fantasies that say we have no control over our
actions because they excuse our failure.