Sunday, June 17, 2007

> Antitrust <

Yesterday we watched the movie "Antitrust" (2001) on TV. We tuned in because we saw Tim Robbins was in it, always a pleasure. He plays an evil genius Silicon Valley CEO aiming for world domination through a multi media platform, called "Synapse", which can broadcast to all possible media simultaneously: TV, computer, cellphone, whatever. It is a tale of conspiracy and betrayal. The Evil Company steals code from young geeks programming in their garage and even kills them when they got what they wanted. It is not a good movie, at times it is almost an activist pamphlet. They made Tim Robbins look a bit too much like Bill Gates.

But the movie does raise interesting issues. Like what if one company actually controls all media outlets? This Synapse system somehow manages to overrule everything so its broadcasts from outer space show up on every device in the whole world that has a screen on it, including Times Square (just one of the extreme improbabilities in this flick). More realistic is the scene where the "heroes" look for a media outlet to tell the world about the evil doings of this company and find that the major outlets (I think they mention CBS, ABC, CNN) all are owned by or have ties with that same company. That is scary. Nice trivia for conspiracy nuts: this movie was broadcast on ION (channel 31 here) and not one of the major channels. But I guess it says more about the quality of the movie than it's possible subversiveness, since apparently ION is linked to NBC/Universal.

The movie containes a blatant plea for open source software, proclaiming that information should be owned by everybody. A noble thing! I am an avid open source user myself, but unfortunately a lot of the software has geeky GUI's (for normal people: GUI stands for Graphical User Interface) and is often hard to install. No, I don't like having to compile a program myself from source code in order to be able to run it. But I much prefer using something open source that resorting to software piracy!

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