Answers provided by Executive Producer Noah Morowitz.
What inspired this story?
NM: CuriosityStream founder John Hendricks came up with the concept of producing multiple hours on the past, present and future of the internet. He was struck by the fact that even though technology increasingly dominates our lives, very few people have a basic understanding of how we got here. From the seemingly simple – how does an email get from point A to point B? – to complex issues of man/machine interface, there is no end to the profound influence of DIGITS.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
NM: The story of Internet security is difficult to tell: much of the material is highly technical and both the good guys and the bad guys are reluctant to reveal too much! We were able to get insider access through our existing relationship with the U.S. Secret Service and by taking the time to gain the trust of key players.
How do you approach science storytelling?
NM: The general public is fascinated by science if it is presented not as facts and figures but as stories and characters. We focused on the people and events that drove the development of the internet, the key turning points in this modern revolution.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
NM: Internet giants are reluctant to acknowledge that the monetization of personal data is how they make money. We hope the film helps people to understand the myriad ways web technology and practices modify human behavior – for better and for worse.
Were there any surprising or meaningful moments/experiences you want to share?
NM: We were fortunate to have the opportunity to interview NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow. He brought the issue of personal privacy into sharp focus with his statement: “Saying you don’t care about surveillance because you have nothing to hide is like saying that you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. These are fundamental rights.”
Anything else you would like people to know?
NM: Some people believe that the internet is the most important human invention since the printing press; others compare the web to the invention of the alphabet. Either way, if you want to understand your world you need to take a long look at this mysterious new force that surrounds us.
NM: We hope to make additional hours of DIGITS, covering such topics as The Internet of Things, Future Money and How We’ll Think and How We’ll Love.
As the curators of the Science Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH), we believe storytelling is a common thread in our shared human experience, and that new media allows us to convey the wonders of scientific discovery in new and compelling ways.