Documentaries tech fans will love
Documentaries give us a peek behind the scenes of big industries and cultures that we are not usually privy to. They are films aimed at educating the public about a certain topic, whether light-hearted or serious, while at the same time being entertaining. As the end of the year approaches, here are some tech documentaries to put on your watchlist for those lazy days at home.
Steal This Film (2006)
Steal This Film documents the movement against intellectual property, and was released via BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol. Those interviewed for this documentary include the co-founders of Pirate Bay (a BitTorrent index site and tracker) and prominent players in the Swedish piracy culture.
This film was created using found material, material reused from other documentaries, interviews with members of the public and sequences from major Hollywood films like The Matrix that are believed to constitute fair use. The clips and music were purposely used to convey the intellectual property message of the film itself.
Because of its message this is one of the most downloaded documentaries to date, and people seem to have done as the title tells them. Part 2 was released in 2007 and focused on copyright wars, and how the nature of the Internet leads us all to become copiers of intellectual property.
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)
Aaron Swartz was most well-known for being the co-founder of Reddit, an entertainment and news website held together solely by user-generated content. He was also instrumental in the development of RSS. Sadly, Aaron committed suicide at the age of 26, but he left behind the legacy of being both a programming prodigy and a prolific freedom of information activist.
The film follows Aaron’s life and how he became interested in the Internet and programming from an early age. We also get an in-depth look at his work in social justice and how he championed open access to data, data sharing and free speech.
Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
Nowadays some of the most popular games come from indie creators. This documentary follows the creation and eventual release of three well-known indie games: Braid, Super Meat Boy and Fez. It maps the hard work and dedication of the creators as well as the criticism and financial hardships that stand in the way of them realising their dreams.
It also gives an insight into how indie game companies became so popular, and how they function and eventually come into direct competition with major game distribution companies.
The more the years pass, the lesser known the name Napster becomes. Napster, for those who don’t know, was founded as a peer-to-peer music file-sharing service which was eventually shut down and went bankrupt due to copyright infringement. It only ran from 1999 to 2001, but resurfaced not too long ago when the company’s branding and logo was taken over by US electronics retailer Best Buy.
Downloaded looks at the history behind downloading and the impact of file sharing on the Internet today. The inclusion of the history of Napster is pivotal to knowing how the sharing of information evolved over the years.
The Startup Kids (2012)
If you’re ever having a demotivated day, week or month, The Startup Kids is guaranteed to give you a much-needed surge of inspiration. The film’s makers interviewed a wide range of American and European entrepreneurs, including the people behind Vimeo, Soundcloud, Kiip, Dropbox, InDinero and more.
This documentary focuses on how companies that are now deemed successful and influential came into being. Many of them started out with nothing – sitting on boxes because there were no chairs, or not being able to afford paying employees – and eventually reached the top through sheer hard work and determination.
The Pixar Story (2007)
For any fan of the animated geniuses behind Pixar, this is a must-see. The Pixar Story builds the history of this iconic company through interviews with big names such Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Tom Hanks, as well as the original founders of Pixar.
It’s a fantastic look at what the Pixar offices were like in the beginning, the close relationships between the employees, and how endearing films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo came to be a part of everyone’s lives.
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)
If you’ve spend any amount of time on the Internet you have no doubt heard about Anonymous, a group of hacktivists (people who use hacking to promote beliefs and put a point across) with an unknown number of members. The fact that the extent of membership is unknown is the reason behind use of the word ‘legion’ in the title, meaning ‘great in number’ or ‘multitude’. Anonymous is not only known for their hacktivist activities but also the fact that they wear Guy Fawkes masks to protect their anonymity.
This documentary follows the history of the Anonymous group, from its supposed origin on 4chan (a controversial imageboard website), and the subsequent hacking events which they orchestrated. Some of the most prominent headlines Anonymous found themselves a part of include attacks on Visa, Mastercard and Paypal for denying service to Wikileaks, the leak of a Tom Cruise interview on Scientology, providing technical support to the Occupy movement, and cyber attacks on foreign governments during the Arab Spring movement.